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Russia, Frontispiece, vol. one. 











M-r ^. 






This Translation of M. Alfred Rambaud's "Historie de la Kus- 
sie" (Paris, 1878) contains a number of emendations by the Au- 
thor. M. Rambaud has also written many additional pages : on 
Russian ethnography ; on the Esthonian Epic ; on the early rela- 
tions of England and Russia ; and on the Emperor Paul's project 
of attacking England in India. The Translator has to express a 
grateful sense of M. Rambaud's constant and courteous aid. In 
whatever is hasty or inaccurate in these volumes, he has no share. 
The Translator has compiled Genealogical Tables, of which M. 
Rambaud has approved. The French book has no index, and an 
attempt has been made to supply this deficiency. The* Translator 
regrets that, by a too close following of the French spelling of the 
ancient tribal names, new varieties have been introduced, where 
variety was already too plentiful and confusing. There seem, for 
example, to be about thirteen ways of spelling " Patzinak." A list 
of some of these names as here printed, and of the forms used by 
Dr. Latham ("Russian and Turk," London, 1878), is subjoined: 

Dr. Latham. 

Tchouvach - - - Tshuvash. 

Tcheremiss - - Tsheriniis. 

Mordvians ... Mordvins (otherwise Mordwa). 

Tchoud ... Tshud. 

Dregovitch - - . Dragovitsae, Dregoviczi. 

Polovtsi ... Polovcszi. 

latvegues - Yatshvings. 

Patzinaks - - - Petshinegs. 

Zaporogues - - - Zaporogs. 




Eastern and Western Europe compared : seas, mountains, climate — 
The four zones — Russian rivers and history — Geographical unity 
of Russia, 13-33 



Greek colonies and the Scythia of Herodotus — The Russian Slavs of 
Nestor — Lithuanian, Finnish, and Tiirkish hordes in the 9th cent- 
ury — Division of the Russians proper into three branches — How 
Russia was colonized, _ . . - - 24r-37 



Religion of the Slavs — Funeral >ites — Domestic and political cus- 
toms : the family, the mir or commune, the volost or canton, the 
tribe — Cities — Industry — Agriculture, - - _ 38-44 



The Nortlimen of Russia — Origin and customs of the Varangians — • 
The first Russian princes : Rurik, Oleg, Igor — Expeditions against 
Constantinople — Olga — Christianity in Russia — Sviatoslaf — 
The Danube disputed between the Russians and Greeks, 45-57 



Vladimir (972-1015) — Conversion of the Russians — laroslaf the 
Great (1016-1054) — Union of Russia — Splendor of Kief — Varan- 
gian-Russian society at the time of laroslaf — Progress of Chris- 
tianity — Social, political, literary, and artistic results, - 58-71 

viii. CONTENTS. 



KIEF, 1054-1169. 

Distribution of Russia into principalities — Unity in division — The 
successors of laroslaf the Great — Wars about the right of head' 
ship of the royal family, and the throne of Kief — Vladimu* Mon- 
oinachus — Wars between the heirs of Vladimir Mononiachus — 
Fall of Kief, 72-83 


GALLICIA, 1169-1224. 

Andrew Bogolioubski of Souzdal (1157-1174), and the first attempt at 
autocracy — George II. (1212-1238) — Wars with Novgorod — Bat- 
tle of Lipetsk (1216) — Foundation of Nijni-Novgorod (1220) — 
Roman (1188-1205) and his son Daniel (1205-1264, in GaUicia, 84-94 



Novgorod tlie Great — Her struggles with the princes — Novgorodian 
institutions — Commerce — National Church — Literature — Pskof 
and Viatka, - - - - - - - 95-106 



the LIVONIAN knights : conquest of the BALTIC PROVINCES BY 


Conversion of Livonia — Rise of the Livonian knights : union with 
the Teutonic knights, - - . . . 106-111 



Origin and manners of the Mongols — Battles of the Kalka, of Ria- 
zan, of Kolomna, and of the Sit — Conquest of Russia — Alexan- 
der Nevski — The Mongol yoke — Influence of the Tatars on the 
Russian development, . . . . . 112-129 

The Lithuanians — Conquests of Mindvog (1240-1263), of Gedimin 
(1315-1340), and of Olgerd (1345-1377) — Jagellon — Union of Li- 
thuania with Poland (1386) — The Grand Prince Vitovt (1392-1430) 
— Battles of the Vorskla (1399) and of Tannenberg (1410), 130-137 




RUSSIA (1303-1462). 

Origin of Moscow — Daniel — George Danielovitch (1303-1325) and 
Ivan Kalita (1328-1341) — Contest with the house of Tver — Simeon 
the Proud and Ivan the Debonnaire (1341 — 1359) — Dmitri Dons- 
koi (1363-1389) — Battle of Koulikovo — Vassili Dmitrievitch and 
Vassili the Blind (1389-1462), - - - - 138-160 


Submission of Novgorod — Annexation of Tver, Rostof , and laro- 
slavl — Wars with the Great Horde and Kazan — End of the Tatar 
yoke — Wars with Lithuania — Western Russia as far as the Soja 
reconquered — Marriage with Sophia Palaeologus — Greeks and 
Italians at the Court of Moscow, .... 161-174 



Annexation of Pskof , Riazan, and Novgorod-Severski — Wars with 
Lithuania — Acquisition of Smolensk — Wars with the Tatars — 
Diplomatic relations with Europe, - - - 175-181 


IVAN THE TERRIBLE (1533-1584). 

Minority of Ivan IV. — He takes the title of Tzar (1547) — Conquest 
of Kazan (1552) and of Astrakhan (1554) — Contests with the Li- 
vonian Order, Poland, the Tatars, Sweden, and the Russian aris- 
tocracy — The English in Russia — Conquest of Siberia, 182-208 



The Muscovite government — The kin and the men of the Tzar — 
The prikazes — Rural classes — Citizens — Commerce — Domestic 
slavery — Seclusion of women — Tlie Renaissance : Literature, 
popular songs, and cathedrals — Moscow in the 16th century, 


BORIS GODOUNOF (1584-1605). 

Feodor Ivanovitch (1584-1598) — The peasant attaclied to the glebe 
— The patriarchate — Boris Godounof (1598-1605) — Appearance 
of the false Dmitri, - - - . . 231-241 




Murder of tlie false Dmitri — Vassili Chouiski — The brigand of 
Touchiiio — Vladislas of Poland — The Poles at the KremUn 
— National rising — MLntne and Pojarski — Election of Micliael Ro- 
nianof, .--..-- 242-253 


PHU.ARETE (1613-1645). 

Restorative measures — End of the Polish war — Relations with Eu- 
rope — The States-general, . - . . 254-262 



The political union of Lublin (1509), and the religious Union (1595) — 
Complaints of White Russia — Risings in Little Russia, 263-271 



Early years of Alexis — Seditions — Khmelnitski — Conquest of 
Smolensk and the Eastern Ukraine — Stenko Razine — Ecclesiasti- 
cal reforms of Nicon — The precursors of Peter the Great — Reign 
of Feodor Alexievitch (1676-1582), - - - 272-290 



Regency of Sophia (1682-1689) — Peter I. — Expeditions against 
Azof (1695-1696) — Fu-st journey to the West (1697) — Revolt and 
destruction of the streltsi — Contest with the Cossacks : revolt of 
the Don (1706); Mazeppa (1709), - - - 291-309 




Frontispiece — Peter the Great 
The City of Novgorod 
The New Palace 
View of the City of Tobolsk 





Eastern and Western Europe compared : seas, mountains, climate — The 
four zones — Russian rivers and history — Geographical unity of Russia, 



Europe may be roughly divided into two unequal parts. If we 
give 4.000,000 square miles to the whole of Europe, only 1,800,- 
000 belong to the western, 2,200,000 to the eastern part. The 
former division is shared between all the monarchies and repub- 
lics of Europe, Russia excepted ; the latter is united under the 
Russian sceptre. Nature, not less than policy or religion, has 
established a strong opposition between the two regions, between 
Eastern and Western Europe, 

The shores of the latter are everywhere broken up by inland 
seas, pierced by deep gulfs, jagged with peninsulas, isthmuses, 
capes, and promontories ; islands and crowded archipelagos are 
thickly sprinkled along the coasts. Great Britain and the Greek 
peninsula particularly, which have a coast-line out of all propor- 
tion to their area, contrast with Vie impenetrable compact mass 
of Eastern Europe. This strongly-marked outline of the western 
lands is the characteristic feature of European geography, while 
the immense spaces of which Russia is composed seem the con- 
tinuation of the plains and plateaux of Northern and Central 
Asia. No doubt Russia is washed by many seas : in the north 
by the Icy Ocean, which bites deep into the countr)' through the 
great fissure of the White Sea ; in the south by the Caspian, th« 


Sea of Azof, and the Black Sea ; in the north-west by the Baltic 
and the gulfs of Bothnia, Finland, and Livonia ; but, with all 
these seas, it has only a comparatively meagre share of sea- 
board. While the rest of Europe has about 15,525 miles of 
coast, Russia, with a much more considerable surface, possesses 
only 5514 miles of coast; and of this nearly half (2680 miles) 
belongs to the Icy Ocean and the White Sea. Now, these two 
seas are only navigable during a few months of the year, from 
June to September, at furthest. The Baltic, in its two most 
northern gulfs, freezes easily ; armies have been able to cross 
on the ice, with all their artillery supplies; navigation is stopped 
from the month of November to the end of April. The Caspian 
often freezes, especially in its northern half, which includes 
Astrakhan, its most flourishing port. The Sea of Azof, here and 
there, is little better than a marsh. It may be said that, with the 
exception of the Euxine, the Russian seas have an anti-European 
character; they cannot be of the same use as our western seas. 
From this point of view Russia is worse endowed by nature than 
any other European country; compared with the privileged lands 
of the West, she might be styled continental Europe, in opposition 
to maritime Europe. 

Western Europe, so jagged in its contour, is no less broken 
in its Surface. Without speaking of the vast central mass of the 
Alps, there is not one European land which does not possess, 
either in its length or breadth, a great mountain system forming 
the scaffolding or the backbone of the country. England has 
her chain of the Peak and her Highlands ; France has her 
Cevennes and her central support in Auvergne ; Spain her 
Pyrenees and the Sierras ; Italy her Apennines ; Germany her 
ranges in Suabia, Franconia, and the Hartz ; Sweden her Scan- 
dinavian Alps ; the Greco-Slav peninsula has the Balkan and 
Pindus. What mountains Russia possesses on the other hand, 
are banished, as it were, to the extremities of her territory. She 
is bounded on the north-west by the granitic system of Finland, 
on the south-east by the branches of the Carpathians, to the 
south by the rocky plateaux of the Crimea with the Yalia and 
Tchardyr-Dagh (5183 feet), by the Caucasus, extending over 687 
miles, where Elburz (18,000 feet) surpasses by more than 2000 
feet the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc. To the east 
is the Oural range, the longest chain of mountains (1531 miles) 
in Europe or Asia, running parallel to the meridians of longitude, 
with peaks 6233 feet high. In the Tatar language, the word 
Oural signifies girdle, but it is not only the Ourals which may be 
called the mountain girdle ; all the mountains of Russia deserve 
this name. They bound her, they confine her, but have only a 
slight influence on the configuration of her interior and the dis- 


tribution of her waters. From the Carpathians and the Cauca- 
sus only secondary rivers flow, while the four great .Russian 
streams take their rise in hills not 300 feet high.* We must ob- 
serve also that none of these great mountains form a separate 
system ; they are nearly all fragments of systems belonging to 
other countries. The empire of the Tzars is thus a huge plain, 
which is continued on the west by the level lands of Poland and 
Prussia, and on the east by the limitless steppes of Siberia and 
Turkestan, and is in striking contrast with the rugged and multi- 
form soil of the west. From this point of view, Russia may be 
defined as the Europe of plains, in opposition to the Europe of 

Uniformity of surface is never quite complete, and Russia 
does present inequalities of soil, though these are far less notable 
than the depressions and elevations of the West. In the faintly- 
marked soil of Russia, we must notice, in the centre of the 
country, a kind of square table-land, called the central plateau, 
or the plateau of Alaoune, from the name of its northern part. 
The north-eastern angle is formed by the heights of the Valdai 
plateau, where the hills are 300 feet high ; the western side of 
the central plateau by the small hills of the Dnieper, which ex- 
tend as far as the Cataracts ; the southern side by the heights 
which reach from Koursk to Saratof ; the eastern side by the 
sandy stretches which extend along the right bank of the Volga 
and the Kama ; the northern side by the undulations of the land 
which separate the basin of the Volga from the rivers that drain 
into the Icy Ocean. The central plateau is besides divided into 
two unequal parts by the deep valleys of the Upper Volga, of 
the Oka, and their tributaries. 

Considerable depressions correspond to this swelling in the 
centre of the Russian plateau : — i. Between the plateau of the 
Valdai and the north-east slope of the Carpathians lies a deep 
valley, in which during the quaternary age the Baltic and Euxine 
mingled their waves. It is traversed on the north by the southern 
Diina or Dwina, and the Niemen ; on the south by the Dnieper, 
and its affluents ; it reaches its lowest level in the wide marshes 
of Pinsk. 2. Between the low rocks on the right bank of the 
Volga and the spurs of the Oural {obchtc-hiisirt), the soil gradu- 
ally sinks throughout the whole length of the Volga, and reaches 
the level of the sea at the Caspian, which is 80 feet lower than 
the Black Sea : here are the steppes of Kirghiz, the lowest part 
of European Russia, formerly the bed of a great inland mere 
which was gradually dried up, and of which the Caspian, the 
Lake of Aral, and other sheets of water are only the remains. 

* ll«o feet above the level of the s«a. 


If the Caspian could only regain the level of the Black Sea, a 
large part of this sterile plain, now covered with saline efifiores- 
cence, would be inundated anew. 3. The third great depression 
of the Russian soil is the slope of the north, covered with lakes 
aiul marshes, where the frozen toundra are lost amongst the ice- 
fields of the Polar Ocean and the White Sea. 4. The region of 
the lakes Saima, Onega, Ladoga, which is continued by the 
sandy tracts of the Baltic, and which forms a series of deep 
cavities, where the waters of the Baltic and the White Sea must 
once have found a meeting-point. 

From the fact that Russia, taken as a whole, is only a vast 
plain,' it follows that her surface is swept by Polar winds, which 
no mountain barrier keeps out, for the Oural chain runs in a 
direction parallel to their course. From the fact, again, that 
Russia is only washed by seas, small in proportion to the extent 
of the land, it results that the temperature is modified neither 
by sea-breezes, which in the West warm in winter and refresh 
in summer, nor by the aerial and marine current of the Gulf 
Stream, which finally expires on the coasts and on the mountains 
of Scandinavia, without being able to influence the shores of 
the Baltic. In parallel latitudes this Scandinavian mountain- 
chain makes a notable difference between the Norwegian and 
the Swedish-Russian climate. 

Russia then, like the interior of Asia, Africa, or Australia, 
has to undergo the effects of a purely continental climate. The 
first of these effects is a violent contrast between the seasons. 
The Russian plain is subject in turn to the influences of Polar 
regions and to those of Central and Southern Asia, of the deserts 
of ice and the deserts of burning sand. " Under the latitude 
of Paris and of Venice," says M. Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, *' the 
countries situated to the north of the Black Sea and the Caspian 
have the temperature of Stockholm in January, and the tempera- 
ture of Madeira in July. At Astrakhan, in the latitude of 
Geneva, it is by no means rare for the temperature to vary from 
70 to 75 degrees * in a period of six months. On the coasts of 
the Caspian, in the latitude of Avignon, the cold descends to 
30" below freezing ; in summer, on the contrary, the heat rises 
to upwards of 40°. In the steppes of the Kirghiz, in the lati- 
tude of the centre of France, the mercury is sometimes frozen 
for whole days ; while in the summer the same thermometer, if 
not carefully watched, bursts in the sun. Near the shores of 
the Sea of Aral these extremes of temperature reach their maxi- 
mum ; there are intervals of 80°, perhaps of 90° centigrade, 
between the greatest cold and the greatest heat." Even at 
Moscow, they have had cold of 2)Z° ^"^^ heat of 28 "; at St. 

* Centigrade, 


Petersburg, the temperature may shift between the extremes of 
from 30" to 35" of cold to 31" of heat. 

The second consequence of the continental climate of 
Russia is that the winds do not reach the country till they have 
lost on the way part of their humidity. Russia suffers gener- 
ally from dryness. At Kazan the rainfall is only half that of 
Paris ; it is for this reason that Russia contains so many barren 
and unwooded plains, while this absence of forests all through 
the south is, in its turn, an obstacle to the formation of hills 
and springs and to the development of a healthy moisture. 

St. Petersburg, situated on the 60th parallel of northern 
latitude, is the most northern capital of the whole world. The 
longest day in this city lasts 18 hours 45 minutes ; the sun rises 
on that day at 20 minutes to three, and sets at 25 minutes past 
9, but the twilight is prolonged to the moment of dawn. For 
two months there is no night. The shortest day is 5 hours 47 
minutes ; the sun rises at 5 minutes past 9, and sets at 8 min- 
utes to 3. The Aurora Borealis is frequent in the north of 
Russia, while the mirage is often seen in the steppes of the 

Russia being a country of plains, the geological beds of 
which the soil is formed are nearly always horizontal ; no raising 
of the soil has broken them, rent the beds of stone, and driven 
the fragments through the layers of mould or sand. It follows 
that, except in the neighborhood of mountains, stone is very 
scarce in Russia. This fact has had much influence on the econo- 
mic and artistic development of the country. The people were 
obliged to build with other materials than in the West. The 
public buildings were everywhere of oak and pine, or of brick ; 
the old churches, the palaces of the Tzars, the ramparts of the 
towns, were of wood ; of wood are the present houses of the 
citizens, and the isbas of the peasants. Russian villages, and 
most of the towns, are a collection of combustible materials : 
hence the fires which break out periodically, and justify the 
saying that Russia, as a rule, was burned every seven years. 
Buildings of such materials cannot assume the colossal propor- 
tions of the castles of the Isle de France, or of the Rhenish 
cathedrals ; the old churches of Russia are small. It is only 
since the conquest of the Baltic and the Black Sea that the em- 
pire has had cities of stone. Peter the Great gave Russia her 
first stone capital. From the geological point of view, then, 
Russia may be defined, according to the expression of M. Solo- 
vief, as the Europe of wood^ in opposition to the Europe of stone* 



In a country so extensive and so destitute of seaboard as 
Russia, rivers have an immense importance, and with rivers 
Eastern Europe is well endowed. It is her watercourses which 
prevent Russia from being a continent closed and sealed, like 
Africa or Australia. In place of arms of the sea, she has great 
rivers which penetrate to her centre, and have sometimes almost 
the proportions of seas. In the level plains they have not the 
impetuous current of the Rhone, they flow peacefully through 
great beds cut in the sand or clay, The rivers were for a long 
while the only means of communication. When the Russian 
princes wished to make a progress through their dominions, or 
begin a campaign, they had either to take advantage of winter, 
which from the Dnieper to the Oural gave them a flat surface 
for their sledges, or await the thaw and follow the course of the 
rivers. Boats in summer, sledges in winter, were the only 
means of conveyance ; in spring, the thaw and floods, which 
transformed the plain into a marsh, brought the raspoutitsa (the 
season of bad roads). Commerce followed the same routes as 
war or government. The rivers which, in Russia especially, are 
" the roads that run," explain the rapidity with which we see 
the characters of Russian history traverse immense spaces, and 
go as easily from Novgorod to Kief, from Moscow to Kazan, as 
a French king from his good city of Paris to Rheims or Or- 
leans. The rivers are the allies of the Russians against what 
they call " their great enemy " — space. Russian conquest or 
colonization has everywhere followed the course of the waters ; 
it was on the banks of the Oka, the Kama, the Don, and the 
Volga, that the Russian element of the population chiefly 
gathered, the aboriginal races everywhere retreating into the 
thickness of the primitive forests. 

The plateau of Valdai is the dominant point in the river-sys- 
tem of Russia. It is near this plateau, in the lake Volgo, that 
the Volga, which ultimately falls into the Caspian, takes its 
rise. In this neighborhood also are the sources of the Dnieper 
(flowing to the Black Sea), the Niemen, the Dwina, which falls 
into the Baltic, the Velika'ia, a tributary of the Peipus, the rivers 
forming lake Ilmen, and those which feed the lakes Ladoga and 
Onega, whence rises the Neva. The hydrographic centre of 
Russia being at the north-west angle of the central plateau, it 
follows that the slopes are turned to the south and to the east ; 
a disposition which has had its influence on the development of 
the national history. This history, indeed, begins in the north- 
west, near the Valdai plateau ; on the Peipus and the Ilmen the 
old commercial cities of Pskof and Novgorod are established. 


What is their opening to the sea ? Not the Narova, which falls 
out of lake Peipus, and of which the course is broken by cata- 
racts, but the network of rivers and lakes which terminates in 
the Neva, the Thames of Russia, a river of little length but im- 
mense breadth, on which St. Petersburg, the Novgorod of ihe 
i8th century, was afterwards to be built. In primitive times 
Novgorod was safer in the centre of this network of rivers and 
lakes than she would have been on the Neva. By the Volkhof 
her vessels sailed from the Ilmen to the Ladoga, and by the 
Neva from the Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland, and the great 
Baltic Sea. Other small rivers put her in communication with 
the lake Onega and the White Lake (Bieloe-Ozdro) ; by the 
Soukhona and the northern Dwina she had relations with the 
White Sea, where later the port of Arkhangel arose. By the 
tributaries of the Dwina the Novgorod explorers penetrated 
deep into the northern forests, peopled by aboriginal races, on 
whom they imposed tribute. The watersheds between the slope 
to the White Sea, the basin of the Novgorod lakes, and the 
basin of the Volga, are scarcely marked at all. The rivers seem 
to hesitate at their rise between two opposite courses : some of 
them never make up their minds, like ihe sluggish Cheksna 
which connects the White Sea and the Volga. This interlace- 
ment of the water-system, which makes the northern Dwina, the 
Neva, the Niemen,'and the southern Dwina mere prolongations 
of the Volga and the Dnieper, and puts the four Russian seas 
in unbroken communication, is in itself a sufficient explanation 
of the extent of the conquests and great commercial position of 
Novgorod the Great. 

On the Dnieper, Russia, to rival the Russia of Novgorod, 
founded at a very early date the Rouss of Kief. She too fol* 
lowed the line marked out for her by the course of the Dnieper, 
which necessarily led her to the Black Sea and the Byzantine 

It was by the Dnieper that the fleets of war descended 
against Constantinople ; it was by this rirer tso that Greek 
civilization and Christianity reached Kief. The Dnieper, which 
had made the greatness of Kief, hastened its decay. As a 
medium of communication it was imperfect. The celebrated 
cataracts below Kief formed an insurmountable barrier to nav- 
igation, and consequently the city could not remain the politi- 
cal and commercial capital of Russia. 

The Don, notwithstanding its length of 621 miles, has had 
little influence on the evolution of Russian history. During the 
whole period of the growth of the nation it remained in the 
power of the Asiatic hordes. In later years it fell, with Azov, 
into the possession of the Turks. The sandy shallows near its 


mouth would in any case have proved fatal to its commercial 
importance. The Dwina and the Niemen also remained till the 
i8th century in the hands of the native Finns and Lithuanians, 
or of the German conquerors. 

The river, par excellence, of Russia is the Volga — the 
" mother Volga," as the popular singers call it. If the Neva, 
with the great lakes which feed it, may be compared to the St. 
Lawrence, the Volga may be compared to the Mississippi. With 
a length of 2336 miles, it has a course 250 leagues longer than 
that of the Danube. Many of its tributaries may be reckoned 
among the great rivers of the world. The Oka, with its 633 
miles of length, surpasses the Meuse and the Oder ; the Kama, 
1266 miles long, outvies all other European rivers except the 
Danube ; for the Elbe is only 643 miles, the Loire 681, and the 
Rhine 812 in length. The junction of the Volga and Oka at 
Nijni-Novgorod is like the meeting of two arms of the sea ; it is 
an imposing spectacle to contemplate from the hill on which the 
upper town is built, while the lower town or the fair, with its 
100,000 fluctuating inhabitants, spreads its buildings on the 
banks of both rivers. The Volga, which near laroslavl is 2106 
feet broad, has a breadth of 4593 above Kazan ; towards Sa- 
mara sometimes it decreases to 2446 feet ; sometimes it spreads, 
with its tributary streams and lateral branches, over a breadth 
of 17 miles. At the Caspian it divides into seventy-five 
branches, forming numerous islands, and its delta spreads over 
93 miles. This immense river, the waters of which abound 
with fish as large as sea-fish, — sturgeon, salmon, lampreys, — • 
and where the sterlet sometimes weighs 1073 pounds, would be 
the wonder of Europe, if it was not frost-bound during many 
months in the year. But at the thaw the ports, the dockyards, 
the wharves, are full of life. Two hundred thousand workmen 
flock from all parts of Russia to its banks. Fifteen thousand 
ships and 500 steamboats plough its waters. Kostroma, Nijni- 
Novgorod, Kazan, Simbirsk, Samara, Saratof, Astrakhan, are 
filled with noise and movement. The whole life of Russia 
seems concentrated on the Volga. 

The basin of the Volga and its tributaries embraces an ex- 
tent of surface nearly treble that of France. The basin of the 
Oka alone has three times the extent of the basin of the 
Loire. In her vast domain the Volga included nearly the 
whole of the Russia of the i6th century, and has ex- 
ercised an irresistible influence over the destiny of the land. 
From the day that the Grand Princes established their capital 
on the Moskowa, a tributary of the Oka and sub-tributary of the 
Volga, Russia turned to the east, and began her struggle with 
the Turks and Tatars. The Dnieper made Russia Byzantinej 


the Volga made her Asiatic : it was for the Neva to make her 
European. The whole history of this country is the history of 
its three great rivers, and is divided into three periods : that of 
the Dnieper with Kief, that of the Volga with Moscow, that of 
the Neva with Novgorod in the 8th century, and St. Petersburg 
in the i8th. The greatness of this creation of Peter I. con- 
sisted in his transporting his capital to the Baltic, without 
abandoning the Caspian and the Volga, and in seeking for the 
great Eastern river a new outlet which should open a communi- 
cation with Western seas. Thanks to the canals of the Tik- 
vinka and of the Ladoga, which furnished that outlet, the Neva 
has become, as it were, the northern mouth, the European 
estuary of the Volga. 


From the point of view of production, Russia may be divided 
into four unequal bands, which run from the south-west to the 
north-east, namely : the zone of forests, that of the Tchernoziom 
or Black Land, that of the arable steppes or prairies, and that of 
the barren steppes, 

1. The most northerly and largest zone is the poliessa or 
Russian forest, which borders on one side on the frozen marshes 
and the foundra of the icv shore, and on the other on the wide 
clearings formed by the agricultural enterprise of Novgorod, 
Moscow, and laroslavl. In the north the forest begins with the 
larch ; in the centre resinous trees, with their dark foliage, alter- 
nate with the small leaves and white bark of the birch ; further 
south come the lime, the elm, and the sycamore, and the oak 
appears at the southern limit. 

2. The Black Land extends from the banks of the Pruth to 
the Caucasus, over the widest extent of Russia ; it even passes 
the Oural and the Caucasus, and is prolonged into Asia. It 
derives its name from a deep bed of black mould of inexhaust- 
ible fertility, which produces without manure the richest har- 
vests, and may be compared to a gigantic Beauce, 375,000 
miles square, a corn-field as large as the whole of France. From 
this alone twenty-five millions are fed, and the population in- 
creases daily. From time immemorial this soil has been the 
granary of Eastern Europe. It was here Herodotus placed his 
agricultural Scythians, and hence Athens drew her grain. 

3. The zone of arable steppes lies parallel to the Black Land; 
to the south it descends nearly to the sea: the country is fertile, 
though it cannot do without manure. It formed before tillage 
a bare grass-grown plain, completely devoid of wood, and with 
its 375,000 miles square recalls the American prairie. The 


vegetation of the steppe, where men and flocks can hide them« 
selves as in a forest, is often five, six, and even eight feet high. 
This monotonous steppe, unbroken except by the barrows that 
cover the bones of early races, — this steppe, which is an ocean 
of verdure in spring, but russet and burnt up in the autumn, is 
very dear to her children. It was for long the Russia of heroes, 
the property of nomad horsemen, the country of the Cossack. 
The Black Land and the prairie, which is nearly as fertile, have 
a superficies of 750,000 miles square, or 300,000,000 of acres of 
excellent earth, a surface equal to that of France and Austrian 
Hungary united. 

4, The fourth zone, that of the barren steppes, steppes wliich 
are sandy at the mouth of the Dnieper, clay to the north of the 
Crimea, saline to the north of the Caspian, only contains 1,500,- 
000 inhabitants in its whole extent of 250,000 miles. "Unsuited 
to agriculture, and in a great degree to civilized life," says M. 
Leroy-Beaulieu, " these vast spaces, like the neighboring plains 
of Asia, seem only fit for the raising of cattle and the nomad ex- 
istence. Of all Russia in Europe, these are the only parts which 
even at the present day are inhabited by the Kirghiz and the 
Kalmucks, nomad tribes of Asia, and up to a few years ago by 
the Tatars of the Crimea and the Nogais. Here the Asiatics 
appear as much at home as in their native country." 

The productive parts of Russia are these : the prairie, the 
Black Land, and in the zone of forests the agriculture and in- 
dustrial region of Novgorod, Moscow, Nijni-Novgorod, and 
Kazan. Were the sea-level to rise and drown the northern part 
of i\\Q. poHessa and the barren steppes of the south, nothing would 
be taken from the real force and riches of Russia. 

These alternations of low plains and plateaux, this diversity 
in the direction of the great rivers, this division into forests and 
barren and arable steppes, does not hinder Eastern Europe from 
presenting a remarkable unity. None of the parts of Russia 
could remain isolated from the others ; the plains admit of no 
barrier, no frontier; those which the rivers might impose would 
be effaced in winter under the chariot-wheels of armies, when 
the land is ice-bound from the White Sea to the Euxine, and the 
climate is almost as severe at Kief as at Arkhangel. All these 
regions, which resume their different characters in spring, are 
kept together by economical interests and needs. The forest 
zone needs the corn of the Dnieper, the cattle of the Volga ; the 
steppes of the south need the wood of the north. The commerce 
with Europe, which was conducted by means of the northern 
Dwina, the Neva and the southern Dwina, was completed by 
that with the south and the east, carried on by the Dnieper and 
the Volga. 



Only the region of Moscow, where fields and woods alternate, 
was long sufficient for its own wants ; but since Moscow has 
turned to industrial arts, she needs help from others. In early 
times she united the products of the north and the south ; she 
thus formed the connecting link between them, and ended by 
becoming their ruler. Even Novgorod was forced to acknowl- 
edge her dependence on the princes established on the Oka, 
who had only to forbid the transportation of corn from the Upper 
Volga to the" region of the lakes to reduce the Great Republic 
to obedience. 

The wide plains of Russia are as evidently destined to be 
united as Switzerland to be divided. Between the Carpathians 
and the Ourals, between the Caucasus and the system of Finland, 
nature has marked out a vast empire of which the mountain 
girdle forms the framework. How this framework has been filled 
in is the lesson that history has to teach us. 




Greek Colonies and the Scythia of Herodotus — The Russian Slavs of Nester 
— Lithuanian, Finnish, and Turkish hordes in the ninth century — Division 
of the Russians proper into three branches — How Russia was colonized. 


The early Greeks had established factories and founded 
flourishing colonies on the northern shores of the Black Sea. 
The Milesians and Megarians built Tomi or Kustenje, near 
the Danube, Istros at its mouth, Tyras at that of the Dniester, 
Odessos at that of the Bug, Olbia at that of the Dnieper, Cher- 
sonesos or Cherson on the roadstead of Sebastopol, Palakion 
which aftervvards became Balaclava, Theodosia which became 
Kaffa, Panticapea (Kertch), and Phanagoria on the two shores 
of the Strait of lenikale, Tanais at the mouth of the Don, Apa- 
touros in the Kuban, Phasis, Dioscurias, Pityus at the foot of 
the Caucasus, on the coast of ancient Colchis. Panticapea, 
Phanagoria and Theodosia formed, in the 4th century B.C., a 
confederation with a hereditary chief called the Archon of the 
Bosphorus at its head, whose authority was also acknowledged 
by some of the barbarous tribes. 

Russian archaeologists, and quite recently, M. Ouvarof, have 
brought to light many monuments of Greek civilization, funeral 
pillars, inscriptions, bas-reliefs, statues of gods and heroes. _ We 
know that the colonists carefully preserved the Greek civiliza- 
tion, cultivated the arts of their mother cities, repeated the 
poems of Homer as they marched to battle, loved eloquent 
speeches as late as the time of Dion Chrysostom, and offered a 
special cult to the memory of Achilles. Beyond the line of 
Greek colonies dwelt a whole world of tribes, whom the Greeks 
designated by the common name of Scythians, with whom they 
entered into Wars and alliances, and who served them as mid- 
dlemen in their trade with the countries of the north. Herodotus 
has handed on to us nearly all that was known of these bar- 
barians in the 5th century B.C. 

The Scythians worshipped a sword fixed in the earth as aa 



image of the god of war, and bedewed it with sacrifices of human 
gore. They drank the blood of the first enemy killed in battle, 
scalped their prisoners, and used their skulls as drinking-cups, 
They gave their kings terrible burial-rites, and celebrated the 
anniversaries of their death by strangling their horses and slaves, 
and leaving the impaled corpses to surround the royal kourgan 
with a circle of horsemen. They honored the memory of the 
wise Anacharsis, who travelled among the Greeks. Their nomad 
hordes defied the power of Darius Hystaspes. 

Among the Scythians properly so called, Herodotus distin- 
guished the agricultural Scythians established on the Dnieper, 
probably in the tchernoziom of the Ukraine ; the nomad Scyth- 
ians, who extended fourteen days' journey to the east ; the 
royal Scythians encamped round the Sea of Azof, who regarded 
the other Scythians as their slaves. 

The barbarism of the inland tribes became rapidly modified 
under the influence of the powerful cities of Olbia and Cher- 
sonesos, and the Greco-Scythian state of the Bosphorus. In the 
tombs of the Scythian kings of what is now the government of 
Ekaterinoslaf, as well as in those of the Greco-Scythian princes 
of the Bosphorus, works of art have been found which show the 
genius of the Greeks accommodating itself to the taste of the 
barbarians, precious vases chiselled for them by Athenian artists, 
and all the jewels which at present enrich the museums of 
Kertch, Odessa, and St. Petersburg. 

The Hermitage Museum at St. Petersburg, in particular, 
possesses two vases of an incomparable artistic and archaeologlc 
value. They are the silver vase of Nicopol (government of 
Ekaterinoslaf) and the golden vase of Kertch, and date from the 
4th century B.C., or about the period when Herodotus wrote his 
history, of which they are the lively commentary. The Scythians 
of the silver vase, with their long hair, their long beards, large 
features, tunics and trousers, reproduce very fairly the physiog- 
nomy, stature and costume of the present inhabitants of the 
same countries ; we see them breaking-in and bridling their 
horses in exactly the same way as they do it to-day in those 
plains. The Scythians of the golden vase, notwithstanding their 
pointed caps, their garments embroidered and ornamented after 
the Asiatic taste, and their strangely-shaped bows, are of a very 
marked Aryan type. The former might very well have been 
the agricultural Scythians of Herodotus, perhaps the ancestors 
of the agricultural Slavs of the Dnieper ; the latter, the royal 
Scythians who led a nomad and warlike life. The philological 
studies of M. Bergmann and M. Mullendorf tend to identify 
the Scythian idiom with the Indo-European family of languages. 
" They were then," says M. Georges Perrot, " in spite of many 
Vol. 1 Russia 2 


apparent differences of language, customs and civilization, nearly 
related to the Greeks, and this kinship perhaps contributed, 
without the knowledge of either Greeks or barbarians, to facili- 
tate the relations between Hellenes and Scythians." 

Herodotus takes care to make an emphatic distinction be- 
tween the Scythians properly so called, and certain other peoples 
about whom he has strange stories to tell. These peoples are 
the Melanchlainai, who wear black raiment ; the Neuri, who, 
once a year, become were-wolves ; the Agathyrsi, who array 
themselves in golden ornaments, and have their women in 
common ; the Sauromati, sprung from the loves of the Scythians 
with the Amazons ; the Budini and Geloni, slightly tinged with 
Greek culture ; the Thysagetas, the Massageae the lyrx, who 
lived on the produce of the chase ; the Argippei, who were bald 
and snub-nosed from their birth ; the Issedones, who used to 
devour their dead parents with great pomp and ceremony ; the 
one-eyed Arimaspians ; the Gryphons, guardians of fabled gold ; 
the Hyperboreans, who dwell in a land where, summer and 
winter, the snow-flakes fall, like a shower of white feathers. 

It seems probable that among all these peoples there may 
be some who have since emigrated westwards, and who may be- 
long to the German and Gothic races. Others, again, may have 
continued to maintain themselves, under different names, in 
Eastern Europe, such as the Slavs, the Finns, and even a certain 
number of Turkish tribes. M. Rittich believes he can identify 
the Melafichlainai of Herodotus with the Esthonians, who still 
prefer dark raiment ; the Androphagi with the Samoyedes, whose 
name is derived from the Finnish word suomeadncB ; the Issedones 
with the Vogouls, who may very well have dwelt on the Isseta, 
a sub-tributary of the Obi ; the Arimaspians with Votiaks, whom 
the Turks now call Ari ; the Argippei, Aorses, and Zyrians of 
Strabo with the Erzes or Zyrians ; the Massagetes with the Bach- 
kirs. M. Vivien de Saint-Martin recognizes the Agathyrsi in 
the Agatzirs of Prisons (a.d. 449), and Acatzirs of Jornandes, 
who are the Khazars. The Finns, then, have formed the most 
widely-spread race of Scythia. 



The great barbaric invasions in the 4th century of our era 
formed a period of change and terrible catastrophe in Eastern 
Europe. The Goths, under Hermanaric, founded a vast empire 
in Eastern Scythia. The Huns, under Attila, overthrew this 
Gothic dominion, and a cloud of Finnish peoples, Avars and 



Bulgarians, followed later by Magyars and Khazars, hurried 
swiftly on the traces of the Huns. In the midst of this strife 
and medley of peoples, the Slavs came to the front with their 
own marked character, and appeared in history under their pro- 
per name. They were described by the Greek chroniclers and 
by the Emperors Maurice and Constantine Porphyrogenitus. 
They clashed against the Roman Empire of the East ; they be- 
gan the secular duel between the Greek and Slavonic races, a 
duel which is still being waged for the prize of mastery in the 
peninsula of the Balkans. Certain tribes formed a separate 
group among the others, and received the name of the Russian 
Slavs. Nestor, the first Russian historian, a monk of Kief, of 
the 1 2th century, has described their geographical distribution 
as it existed two hundred years before his time. The Slavs, 
properly so called, inhabited the basin of the Ilmen, and the 
west bank of Lake Peipus ; their towns, Novgorod, Pskof, Izborsk, 
appear in the verybeginnmg of the history of Russia. The Kri- 
vitches, again, were settled on the sources of the Dwina and 
the Dnieper, round their city .of Smolensk. The Polotchans had 
Polotsk, on the Upper Dwina. The Dregovitches dwelt on the 
west of the Dwina, and of the Upper Dnieper, and held Tourof. 
The Radimitches abode on the Soja, a tributary of the Dnieper, 
and possessed the old cities of Ouvritch and Korosthenes ; the 
Viatitches on the Higher Oka ; the Drevlians, so called from 
the thick forests which covered their territory, in the basin of 
the Pripet. Between the Desna and the Dnieper the Severians 
were established ; their towns were Loubetch, Tchernigof, and 
Pereiaslavl. The Polians faced the Severians on the right bank 
of the Dnieper ; Kief was their centre. The White Croats 
abode between the Dniester and the Carpathians ; the Tivertses 
and the Loutitches on the Lower Dniester and the Pruth ; the 
Doulebes and the Boujans on the Bug, a tributary of the Vistula. 
Nestor's list of the Russian Slavs shows that, in the 9th cen- 
tury of our era, when their history begins, they occupied but a 
small part of the Russia of to-day. They were almost completely 
penned in the districts of the Dwina and the Upper Dnieper, of 
the Ilmen and the Dniester. In all the immense basin of the 
Caspian, their share was only the land they occupied around the 
sources of the Volga and the Oka. 

On the west and north, the Russian Slavs bordered on other 
Slavonic tribes, which, about this period, acquired distinct 
national names. Some groups, scattered about the Upper Elbe 
and the two banks of the Vistula, after the invasion of the 
Tcheques and the Liakhs or Lechites (from the 4th to the 7th 
century), formed themselves into the States of Bohemia and Po- 


Other tribes on the March, or Morava, made, in the kingdom 
of Moravia, their first attempt to secure political existence (9th 
century). Certain others scattered on the Lower Danube 
formed the kingdom of Bulgaria, after the invasion of the Bul- 
garians under Asparuch (680). In a more distant land on the 
Adriatic, the Servian and Croatian tribes were preparing to 
organize themselves into the kingdoms of Croatia, Dalmatia, 
and Servia. On the Baltic were the Slavs of Pomerania, of 
Brandenburg (Havelians), and Sprevanians of the banks of the 
Elbe (Obotrites, Wiltzes, Lutitzes, and Sorabians or Sorbes), all 
one day to be absorbed by the German Conquest. 

At this period there was little difference between Russian 
and Polish Slavs. M. Koulich thinks that conquests achieved 
by two different races of men; that the adoption of two irrecon- 
cilable creeds (those of Rome and of Byzantium) ; that the in- 
fluence of two rival civilizations, the Greek and the Latin, with 
their separate literatures and alphabets ; — that all these influ- 
ences created two antagonistic peoples in the midst of a race of 
one blood, and stamped on the inert and unconscious material 
of the Slavonic kindred the impress of two hostile nationalities. 
The Slav, moulded by the Lechites, converted to the Church of 
Rome, and subject to the influences of the west, became the 
Pole. The Slav, moulded by the Varangians, converted to the 
Greek church, and subject to Byzantine influences, became the 
Russian. In the beginning, on the Vistula as on the Dnieper, 
all were Slavs alike ; all practised the same heathen ritual ; al) 
were governed by the same traditions, and spoke almost the 
same language. Indeed, the affinities of the Russian and 
Polish idioms, between which the dialects of White Russia, of 
Red Russia, and of Little Russia serve as links, sufficiently de- 
monstrate an original brotherhood, which the strifes of churches 
and of thrones have destroyed. 

The Russian Slavs, before taking possession of all the domain 
assigned to them by history, had to struggle in the north and 
east against the nations belonging to three principal races, the 
Letto-Lithuanians, the Finns and the Turks, in whom Finnish 
and Tatar elements were more or less mingled. The Finns 
and the Turks belong to that branch of the human family which 
has been named, from its twofold cradle of the Oural and the 
Altai, Ouralo-Altaic. The first of these races belongs to the 
Aryan family, but is nevertheless distinct from the Germanic 
or Slav races, and its dialects have more resemblance to San- 
scrit than any other European tongue. The Jmouds and the 
Lithuanians, properly so called, dwell on the Niemen, the lat- 
viagues on the Narev. On the western shore of the Gulf of 
Riga and on the Baltic, the Korses^ who give their name to 



Courland, are to be found, while the Semigalli inhabit the left 
bank of the Dwina; and ihe Letgols, from whom are descended 
by a mingling with the Finnish race of Livonians, the Letts or 
Latiches of Southern Livonia. The Livonians on the Gulfs of 
Livonia and Finland, and the Tchoud-Estonians, who gave their 
name to Peipus, the Lake of the Tchouds, belong to the Finnish 
race. They are the ancestors of the present inhabitants of 
Northern Livonia and Esthonia. The three so-called German 
provinces of the Baltic are then Lettish in the south, Finnish in 
the north. The Narovians were established on the Narova, 
which is a territory of the Peipus ; the Votes or Vodes, between 
the Volkhof and the sea, in a country called by the Novgoro- 
dians, Vodska'ia Piatina ; the Ingrians or Ijors, on the Ijora or 
Ingra, a tributary on the left bank of the Neva. The Tchoud- 
Estonians at the present day number 719,000, the Livonians 
2540, the Vodes 5000, and the Ingrians 18,000. 

Finland or Suomen-maa (land of the Suomi) is still inhabited 
by the Suomi, who were divided into three tribes, the lames or 
Tavasts on the south-east, round Inamburg and Tavastehus ; 
the Kvins or Kaians, on the Gulf of Bothnia ; the Carelians, 
who were more numerous than the two othernationsput together, 
occupied the rest of Finland. These three peoples at present 
amount to a total of i, 450,000. The north of Finland was and 
is inhabited by the Laps or Laplanders, who form a special 
division of the Finnish race, and reckon in Russia about 4000 
souls. The shores of the Icy Ocean, from the ivlezen to the 
Yenissei, have been always occupied by the Samoyedes, a very 
wide-spread but far from numerous people, who amount in Europe 
to about 5000 souls. In the time of Nestor the Vesses dwelt on 
the Cheksna and the White Lake ; the Mouromians (whose 
name is repeated in that of Mourom) on the Oka and its afflu- 
ents, the Moskowa and the Kliazma ; the Merians on the Upper 
Volga around the Lake Klechtchine and Lake Nero or Rostof. 
These three tribes have completely disappeared, having been 
absorbed or transformed by the Russian colonization, but leave 
behind them innumerable kourga/is or tumuli. Between 185 1 
and 1854, M. Ouvarof and M. Savelief excavated 7729 in the 
Merian country alone. Besides these monuments and the 
remains which they contain, the only traces left of these tribes 
are to be found in names of places, and in certain peculiarities 
of the local dialects. It was around their territory that the 
Muscovite State and the Russian empire were formed. The 
Tchoud-Zavolotchians were encamped on the Lower Dwina ; the 
Erzes, or Zyrians, inhabited the basin of the Petchora ; the Per- 
mians, the source of the Dwina and the Kama ; the Votiaks or 
Ari lived on the Viatka, where the town of Viatka still preserve! 


their name. These races form what is called the Permian branch 
of the Finnish nation ; their country was named by the Scandi- 
navians, Biarmia or Biarmaland, and " Great Permia " by the 
Muscovites. Biarmaland was discovered in the 9th century by 
the Norwegian navigator Other, who not long afterwards entered 
the Service of Alfred the Great, king of England, and has left 
in Anglo-Saxon an account of his travels. This narrative proves 
that the Permians were then a civilized people, who traded with 
India and Persia. The temple of their god loumala was so 
richly ornamented with precious stones, that its brilliance illu- 
minated all the surrounding country. The Erzes number at the 
present day only 80,000, the Permians 70,000, the Votiaks 

The Ougrian branch is composed first of the Ostiaks, amount- 
ing to 20,000 and of the Voguls ( 7000). On the east they in- 
habit the Ourals, and only border on Europe. Formerly they 
lived more to the south. The Magyars, who made Europe tremble 
in the loth century, and founded the kingdom of Hungary, be- 
longed to this race. 

Between the Kama and the Oural were already to be found 
the Bach-Kourtes (shaven-heads) or Bachkirs of the i6th to the 
17th centuries, originally a Finnish people, no doubt of the Ugrian 
branch, but profoundly Tatarized, with whom were mingled the 
Metcheraks, a tribe named by Nestor. There are at present 
500,000 Bachkirs,and 100,000 Metcheraks. On the Middle Vol^ 
dwelt the Tcheremisses, the Tchouvaches, and the Mordvians ; 
the Tcheremisses are found again to-day in the government oi 
Kazan, Nijni-Novgorod, and Viatka ; the Tchouvaches in Kazan, 
Nijni-Novgorod, and Simbirsk ; the Mordvians in Kazan, Tam- 
bof, Pensa, Simbirsk, Samara, and Saratof, but these are now 
only small islets amid the Russian colonization, whereas in the 
time of Nestor they formed a compact mass. The Tcheremisses 
now only number 165,000, the Tchouvaches 430,000, and the 
Mordvians 500,000 ; all the rest have become Russians except a 
few who have become Tatar. 

All seems strange among these ancient peoples. The type 
of countenance is blurred and, as it were, unfinished; the cos- 
tume seems to have been adopted from some antediluvian 
fashion ; the manners and superstitions preserve the trace of 
early religions beyond the date of any known paganisms ; the 
language is sometimes so very primitive that the Tchouvaches 
for example do not possess more than a thousand original words. 

The Tcheremiss women wear on their breasts two plates form- 
ing a cuirass, and ornamented with pieces of silver, transmitted 
from generation to generation. A numismatist would make 
wonderful discoveries in these walking museums of medalSi 



They drape their legs in a piece of tightly " tied back " black 
cloth, and think that modesty consists in never showing the legs, 
jusL as the Tatar women make a point of never unveiling the 

The Tchouvach women cover their heads with a little peaked 
cap like a Saracen helmet, carry on their backs a covering of 
leather and metal, like the trapping of a war-horse, and wear on 
fete-days a stiff and rectangular mantle like a chasuble. Among 
this singular people, " black " and " beautiful " are synonym.ous, 
and when they wish to revenge themselves they hang them- 
selves at their enemy's door. 

In spite of three centuries of Christian missions, these tribes 
dwelling in the heart of Russia and on the great artery of the 
Volga are not even yet complete converts to Christianity. 

There are still some pagan districts. It may even be said 
that a considerable portion of the Tcheremisses, Tchouvaches, 
Mordvians, and Votiaks remain attached to the worship of the 
ancient deities, which they sometimes mingle with the orthodox 
practices and the worship of St. Nicholas. Their religion consisted 
essentially in dualism : the good principle is called by the 
Tchouvaches, Thora ; louma (the " Journal " of the Finns) 
by the Tcheremisses ; Inma by the Votiaks, etc. The bad prin- 
ciple was named Chaitan or Satan. Between the two is a 
divinity whom men had in former times cruelly offended, who 
is called Kereinet. From the good god proceeded an infinity of 
gods and goddesses ; from Keremet a numerous progeny of 
male and female Keremets, genii more mischievous and ma- 
levolent, to whom the aborigines offer pieces of money, and 
sacrifice horses, oxen, sheep, swans, and cocks and hens, in 
sanctuaries also named Keremet, built in the depths of the 
forests and far from Russian spies. 

Human sacrifices have been talked of. The worship of the 
dead inspired ideas which guide the savage everywhere. Men 
have preserved the custom of wife-capture, or buying brides 
from the fathers by paying the kalym ; they practise agricultural 
communism. In a word, the life of these races of the Volga 
in the 19th century is the living commentary of the accounts of 
Nestor of the Russian Slavs of the 9th century. 

It is probable that Slavs and Russians then lived in an 
absolutely identical state of civilization, and had almost the 
same religious ideas and the same customs. 

There remain two Finnish peoples still to be spoken of, who, 
mentioned by Nestor, have at present disappeared, but who were 
far more remarkable than any of the preceding. These are the 
Khazars, who, although mingled with Turkish elements, were 
essentially Finnish. Remarkable for their aptitude for civiliza- 


tion, they haa fonned in the gth century a vast empire, which 
embraced the regions of tlie Lower Dnieper, the Don, and ihe 
Lower Volga, round the Sea of Azof and the Caspian ; tliey had 
built Itil on the Volga, and Sarkel or the White City on the 
Don ; they had sometimes governors at Bosporos and Chefson 
in the Taurid peninsula; in the Kuban they possessed the 
Tamatarchia of the Greeks. They had commercial and friendly 
relations with Byzantium, the caliphate of Bagdad, and even the 
caliphate of Cordova, the only civilized slates of the then known 
world. The Khazars had flourishing schools, and tolerated all 
religions besides the national paganism. Mussulman mission- 
aries appeared in the 7th, Jewish missionaries in the 8th century, 
and Saint Cyril arrived about 860 at the court of their Chagan. 
A Jewish Chagan of the name of Joseph interchanged some 
curious letters with the Rabbi Hasdai of Cordova, announcing 
to him that the people of God, the Israel Khazar, ruled over 
nine nations of the nineteen of the Caucasus, and thirteen of the 
Black Sea, and that he did not allow the Russians to descend 
the Volga to ravage the territory of the Caliph of Bagdad. The 
Israelitish Khazars became afterwards mingled with the Kha- 
raite Jews, and the Moslem Khazars with the Tatars of the 
Crimea. Among the vassal nations of the Khazars enumerated 
by the Chagan Joseph, were the Bourtass and the Bulgars of 
the Volga the latter, kinsmen of the Bulgars who were sub- 
jected by ihe Danubian Slavs, and apparently nearly related to 
the Tchouvaches, were a mixture of Finnish, Turkish, and even 
Slav elements, according to an Arabian account. Sedentary, 
industrious, and destined to inherit the commercial splendor 
of the Khazars, they blended with the native superstitions the 
Islamism which was preached to them in 922 by missionaries 
from Bagdad, and possessed in the loth century a flourishing 
state. Their capital was Bolgary or the " Great City," on the 
junction of the Volga and the Kama. They also owned the 
cities of Bouliar or Biliarsk, Souvar, Krementchoug, &c. Their 
descendants were fused with the Tatar conquerors of the 13th 

The Finnish races, even more than the Slavs, are the real 
aborigines of Russia. In the 5th century b.c. Herodotus writes 
of them as already long possessed of the soil. Everywhere in 
these wide regions the traces of their occupation are visible. 
At different periods they extended from the Livoaian Gulf to 
the Ourals, and from the Icy Ocean to the Black Sea. They 
withdrew at various times, especially from the 5th to the 9th 
centuries, to allow the passage of the great migrations and of the 
great invasions ; but in the xoth century they occupied, with the 


Khazars, the shores of the Sea of Azof and of the Caspian, while 
the Finns of Esthonia held the Lithuanians in check. 

The Turkish races, on the contrary, made their appearance 
much later in Russia. In the 9th century the Lower Volga and 
the Lower Oural began to fall a prey to the Patzinaks, incor- 
rigible brigands who marched over the bodies of the Khazars 
to establish themselves on the Lower Dnieper. After them ap- 
peared the Polovtsi or Koumans, the Ouzes or Torques. The 
invasion of the Tatars was more Turkish than Mongolian. The 
nomads vanished or, according to Nestor, were absorbed by new 
arrivals, namely the Nogai's, formed in the 13th century of the 
remnants of the Polovtsi, and of the Turko-Kanglis, at present 
numbering 50,000 ; the Kirghis, who entered Europe about 1721, 
and to-day amount to about 82,000 souls ; the Kalmucks, who 
are Mongols not Turks, belong to the CEleutes or Western 
Mongols, invaders of Russia in 1636, number 87,000 in the 
provinces of Astrakhan, Stavropol, and the Don, and in spite of 
the efforts of Christians and Mussulmans have remained La- 
maists. As to the Tatars, properly so called, or sedentary Turks 
(more or less a mixture of Finnish and Mongol elements), who 
inhabit the governments of the Volga, Kazan, and Astrakhan, as 
well as those of Stavropol and the Crimea, they number altogether 
about 1,420,000 heads. 


In the time of Nestor (end of the nth century), the Russian 
Slavs confined between the Lithuanians on the west, the Finns 
on the north, and the Turks on the east, hardly occupied one- 
fifth part of Russia in Europe. To-day we see the Russian 
race extend from Finland to the Oural, from the Icy Ocean to 
the Caucasus and Crimea, amounting to 56,000,000 men, be- 
sides 3,000,000 colonists in the Asiatic provinces. The Letto- 
Lithuanians on the contrary are reduced to 2,420,000 souls; 
the Finns, including the inhabitants of Finland, to less than 
4,000,000 ; and the Turko-Tatars to less than 2,000,000. The 
Russians form six-sevenths of the population of Russia. The 
proportions are more than reversed. What a change has been 
wrought in ten centuries ! The present Russians may be 
divided into three branches, deriving their names from certain 
historical circumstances, i. The name of White Russia is 
given to the provinces conquered from the 13th to the 14th 
century by the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. These were the 
ancient territories of the Krivitches, Polotchans, Dregovitches, 


Drevllans, Doulebes, now forming the governments of Vitepsk, 
Mohilef, and Minsk. The governments of Kovno, Grodno and 
Wilna, at present unequally Russicized, were originally Lithu- 
anian. The Lithuanian territories of Grodno, Novogrodek and 
Belostok were sometimes called Black Russia. 2. Little Russia 
includes the country of the ancient Severians and Polians in- 
creased by colonies ; that is, the governments of Kief, Tcher- 
nigof, Pultowa, Kharkof, Volhynia, and Podolia. It even ex- 
tends beyond the frontiers of the empire mto Red Russia or 
Old Gallicia (Galitch, laroslavl, Terebovl, Zvenigorod, Lemberg, 
or Lvof), belonging to Austria, and peopled by 3,000,000 ot 
Ruthenians or Russians. 3. Great Russia grouped around the 
ancient Muscovy, and occupying the place held in the 9th cen- 
tury by many Turkish or Finnish tribes. To Great Russia be- 
long Northern Russia (Arkhangel), Eastern Russia (the Volga, 
Kazan, Astrakhan), and JVe^v Russia or South Russia (Cherson, 
Ekaterinoslaf, Kharkof, Odessa, the Crimea). Great Russia as 
a whole, apart from Novgorod and Pskof, was won from foreign 
races by Russian colonization. It was a colony of Kievian 
Russia, and, though for a time subjugated by the Tatars, was 
able to shake off their yoke, while Kief still remained a Lithu- 
anian province. It continued to extend its conquests in the 
East; then turning to the West in the 17th and i8th centuries, 
was able to recover White Russia and Little Russia. 

In the empire the White Russians number 3,000,000, the 
Little Russians 12,000,000, and the Great Russians 41,000,000. 
There are dialectical differences between the idioms of these 
three families, which historical and literary influences easily ex- 
plain. Some writers have been anxious to establish the existence 
of a profound difference between Great Russia and her two 
neighbors. They have reserved the name of Russians and the 
character of Slavs for the White Russians and the Little Russians, 
and have pretended to see in the " Muscovites " nothing but 
descendants of Finns, Turks and Tatars, in a word Turanians, 
Russian only in language. The Muscovite Empire, founded in 
the midst of Vesses, of Mouromians, and of Merians, extended 
at the expense of the Tchouvaches, the Mordvians, Tatars and 
Kirghiz, with its two capitals Moscow and St. Petersburg in the 
Tchoudic region, is not, if these writers are to be trusted, even 
a European state. A more careful study shows us that Muscovy 
was formed in the first place by the migrations of Russian col- 
onists, in the second place by the assimilation of certain foreign 
races, i. When the steppes of the south became the prey of 
Asiatic nomads, the Russian population flowed back in a vast 
wave, from the banks of the Dnieper to the Upper and Middle 
Volga. We see the princes of Souzdal calling to their aid the 



inhabitants of the banks of the Dnieper, while in the forests of 
the north new cities are constantly founded by the people of 
Novgorod. The Russia of Kief once destroyed, a new Russia 
begins to form itself, almost out of the same elements, at the 
opposite extremity of the Oriental plain. The names given to 
the new towns of Souzdal and Muscovy must be noticed. There 
is a Vladimir on the Kliazma as there is a Vladimir in Volhvnia, 
a Zvenigorod on the Moskowa as on the Dniester, a Galitch in 
Souzdal as in Gallicia, a laroslavl on the Volga as on the San, 
Souzdal and Riazan, like Kief, have their Pereiaslavl ; that of 
the former bears the title of Zaliesski, or " beyond the forests." 
In a different land and under another sky the emigrants clearly 
tried to restore the name, if they could not find the image of 
their native country. Is it not thus that the English in America 
founded New York, and the French New Orleans .•* Moreover, 
when we have seen a population of 3,000,000 Russians gather in 
the Caucasus and in Siberia — when we see that the steppes of 
the south which were deserts in the time of Catherine II. reckon 
to-day their 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 inhabitants, — it is easy to un- 
derstand how, at a more distant epoch, the basin of the Volga was 
colonized. As for saying that the inhabitants of New Russia 
are nothing but Finns and Russified Turks, one might as well 
pretend that the 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 of North America are 
Red-skins who have learnt English and embraced Protestantism. 

We must recognize that the Russian, almost as much as the 
Anglo-Saxon, has the instinct which drives men to emigrate and 
found colonies. The Russians do in the far East of Europe 
what the Anglo-Saxons do in the far West of America. They 
belong to one of the great races of pioneers and backwoodsmen. 
All the history of the Russian people, from the foundation of 
Moscow, is that of their advance into the forest, into the Black 
Land, into the prairie. The Russian has his trappers and set- 
tlers in the Cossacks of the Dnieper, Don, and Tereck ; in the 
tireless fur-hunters of Siberia ; in the gold-diggers of the Oural 
and the Altai ; in the adventurous monks who ever lead the way, 
founding in regions always more distant, a monastery which is 
to be the centre of a town ; lastly, in the Raskolnicks, or Dissen- 
ters, Russian Puritans or Mormons, who are persecuted by laws 
human and divine, and seek from forest to forest the Jerusalem 
of their dreams. The level plains of Russia naturally tempted 
men to migration. The mountain keeps her own, the mountain 
calls her wanderers to return; while the steppe, stretching away 
to the dimmest horizon, invites you to advance, to ride at advent- 
ure, to "go where the eyes glance." 

The flat and monotonous soil has no hold on its inhabitants ; 
they wiU find as bare a landscape anywhere As for their hovel, 


how can they care for their hovel? it is burned down 6 
often. The Western expression, the " ancestral roof," has no 
meaning for the Russian peasant. The native of Great Russia, 
accustomed to live on little, and endure the extremes of heat and 
cold, was born to brave the dangers and privations of the emi- 
grant's life. With his crucifix, his axe in his belt, and his boots 
slung behind his back, he will go to the end of the Eastern world. 
However weak may be the infusion of the Russian element in 
2l\\ Asiatic population, it cannot transmute itself nor disappear — 
it must become the dominant power. 

History has helped to make this movement irresistible. 
When the Russian took refuge in Souzdal, he was compelled to 
clear and cultivate the very worst land of his future domain, for 
the Tchenwziom was then overrun by nomads. How could he 
escape the temptation to go and look in the south for more fer- 
tile soil which without labor or manure would yield four times 
as great a harvest t Villages and whole cantons in Muscovy 
have been known to empty themselves in a moment, the peasants 
marching in a body, as in the old times of the invasions, towards 
the " Black Soil," the " Warm Soil " of the south. Government 
and the landholders were obliged to use the most terrible means 
to stop these migrations of the husbandmen. Without these re- 
pressive measures the steppes would have been colonized two 
centuries earlier than they actually were. The report that the 
Tzar authorized the emigration — a forged ukase, a rumor — any- 
thing was enough to uproot whole peoples from the soil. 
The peasant's passion for wandering explains the development 
of Cossack life in the plains of the south ; it explains the legis- 
lation which from the beginning of the i6th century chained the 
serf to the glebe and bound him to the soil. In the 13th cen- 
tury, on the other hand, the peasant was free. His prince 
encouraged him to emigrate, and hence came the colonization 
of Eastern Russia. 

2. The Russian race, it is true, has the faculty of absorbing 
certain aboriginal stocks. The Little Russians assimilated the 
remnants of Turkish tribes, the Great Russians swallowed up 
the Finnish nations of the East. There must, however, be no 
religious barrier between the conquerors and the conquered, for 
the Tchoud, while still heathen, is easily assimilated ; but once 
converted to Islamism, he is a refractory element that can 
scarcely be brought to order. A baptized Tchouvach inevitably 
becomes a Russian, a circumcised Tchouvach inevitably be- 
comes a Tatar. We have seen the Vesses, the Mouromians, 
the Merians disappear without leaving a trace ; the Tchouvaches, 
the Mordvians, the Tcheremisses become more Russian every 
day. The successive stages, and the steps which lead to the 



accomplishment of this change, were lately observed by Mr. 
Wallace, an English traveller : — 

" During my wanderings in these northern provinces I have 
found villages in every stage of Russification. In one every- 
thing seemed thoroughly Finnish : the inhabitants had a reddish- 
olive skin, very high cheek-bones, obliquely-set eyes, and a pe- 
culiar costume ; none of the women and very few of the men 
could understand Russian, and any Russian who visited the 
place was regarded as a foreigner. In a second there were al- 
ready some Russian inhabitants ; the others had lost something 
of their pure Finnish type, many of the men had discarded 
the old costume and spoke Russian fluently, and a Russian 
visitor was no longer shunned. In a third, the Finnish type 
was still further weakened ; all the men spoke Russian, and 
nearly all the women understood it ; the old male costume had 
entirely disappeared, and the old female costume was rapidly 
following it, and the intermarriage with the Russian population 
was no longer rare. In a fourth, intermarriage had almost com- 
pletely done its work, and the old Finnish element could be de- 
tected merely in certain peculiarities of physiognomy and ac- 
cent " (vol, i. p. 231). 

The density and resisting power of these ancient peoples, 
scattered over such immense spaces of the continent, must 
have been comparatively slight, while the Russian emigrants 
came on in vast waves, or stole in like the constant dropping of 
water. The aboriginals must often have recoiled and concen- 
trated their forces, thus leaving room and verge for the pure 
Slavonic element. The more or less considerable mixture of 
races, on the other hand, cannot but have influenced the physi- 
cal type, character, and powers of the Great Russian in a pecul- 
iar wav. The bright Slavonic nature, when blended with tribes 
of a duller cast, gained in strength and weight what it lost in 
vivacity. Hence, of all the Slavonic peoples, the Great Rus- 
sian alone has been able to create and to maintain, in face of 
every obstacle, a vast and durable empire. 




Religion of the Slavs — Funeral rites — Domestic and political customs . the 
family, the viir or commune, the volost or canton, the tribe — Cities — Iiv'.us- 
try — Agriculture. 


The religion of the Russian Slavs, like that of all Aryan 
races, was founded on nature and its phenomena. It was a 
pantheism which, as its original meaning was lost, necessarily 
became a polytheism. Just as the Homeric deities were pre- 
ceded by the gods of Hesiod, Ouranos and Demeter, or Heaven 
and Earth, so the most ancient gods of the Russian Slavs seem 
to have been Svarog, the heaven, and " our mother, the dank 
earth." Then new conceptions appeared in the first rank in the 
historic period, i. Ancient poets and chroniclers (see the Song 
of Igor, and Nestor) have preserved to us the names of Dagh- 
■Bog, god of the sun, father of nature ; Voloss, a. solar deity, and, 
like the Greek Apollo, inspirer of poets and protector of flocks ; 
Ferun, god of thunder, another personification of the Sun at war 
with the Cloud ; Stribog^ the Russian ^olus, father of winds, 
protector of warriors ; Khors, a solar god ; Semargl 2ind Mokoch, 
whose attributes are unknown. 2. In some of the early hymns 
they sing of Koupalo or larilo, god of the summer sun, and Diii- 
Lado, goddess of fecundity. 3. In the epic songs are celebrated 
Sviatogor, the giant-hero, whose weight the earth can scarcely 
bear ; Mikoula Selianuiovitch, the good laborer, a kind of Slav 
Triptolemus, the divine personification of the race's passionate 
love of agriculture, striking with the iron share of his plough 
the stones of the furrow, with a noise that is heard three days' 
journey off ; Volga Vseslavitch, a Proteus who can take all man- 
ner of shapes ; Polkan, a centaur ; Dozmai, Don Ivanovitch, 
Dnieper Korolevitch^ who are rivers ; then a series of heroes, 
conquerors of dragons like Ilia of Mourom, who seem to be solar 
gods degraded to the rank of paladins. 4. In the stories which 
beguile the village evening assemblies, appear Morena, god- 
dess of death ; Kochtchei and Moroz, personifications of the bit- 
ter winter weather ; Baba-Yaga, an ogress who lives on the edge 
of the forest, in a hut built on the foot of a fowl, and swayed by 
the winds ; and the King of the Sea, who entices sailors to his 



watery palaces. 5. Popular superstition continues to p>eople 
nature with good and bad spirits : the Russalki, water sprites ; 
Vodianoi, river genii ; the Liechii and the Liesnik, forest de- 
mons ; the Dotnovoi {dom, house), the brownie of the domestic 
hearth ; and the Vampires, ghosts who steal by night from their 
tombs, and suck the blood of the living during their sleep. 

Since Mythology reproduces under so many forms the strug- 
gle of the heroes of the light with the monsters of darkness, it is 
possible that she may have admitted a bad principle at variance 
with a good principle, an ill-doing god, of whom Morena, Koch- 
tchei, Baba-Yaga, the dragon, the mountain-serpent, are only 
types. We cannot find any positive confirmation of this hypo- 
thesis, as far as the Russian Slavs are concerned, but Helmold 
asserts that the Baltic Slavs recognize Bielibog, the White God, 
and Tcheniobog, the Black God. 

The Russians do not seem to have had either temples or 
priests in the proper sense of the word. They erected rude 
idols on the hills, and venerated the oak consecrated to Perun ; 
the leaders of the people offered the sacrifices. They also had 
sorcerers, or magicians, analogous to the Tatar Shamans, whose 
counsels appear to have had great weight. 

It has been the study of the Russian Church to combat pa- 
ganism by purifying the superstitions she cannot uproot. She 
has turned to account any similarity in names or symbols. She 
has been able to honor Saint Dmitri and Saint George, the slay- 
ers of dragons ; Saint John, who thunders in the spring ; Saint 
Elias, who recalls Ilia of Mourom ; Saint Blaise or Vlaise, who 
has succeeded to Voloss as guardian of the flocks ; Saint Nich- 
olas, or Mikoula, patron of laborers, like Mikoula Selianino- 
vitch ; Saint Cosmas, or Kouzma, protector of blacksmiths, who 
has taken the place of kouznets, the mysterious blacksmith forger 
of the destinies of man in the mountains of the north. In some 
popular songs the Virgin Mary replaces Did-Lado, and then 
Saint John succeeds to Perun or larilo. Who can fail to recog- 
nize the myth of the spring and the fruitful rains accompanied 
by thunder, in this White Russian song that is repeated at the 
festival of St. John ? " John and Mary — bathed on the hill — 
while John bathed — the earth shook — while Mary bathed — the 
earth germinated." The Church has taken care to consecrate 
to the Saints of her calendar or to purify by holy rites the sacred 
trees and mysterious wells to which crowds of pilgrims contin- 
ued to flock. 

Russian Slavs certainly had visions of another life, but, like 
all primitive peoples, they looked forward to a life which was 
gross and material. In the 7th century among the Wends, Ger- 
man Slavs, women refused to survive their husbands, and burned 


themselves on their funeral pile. This ancient Aryan custom 
must have been in vigor among the Russian Slavs at an equally 
early epoch. The Arabic writer, Ibn-Foszlan, gives an account 
of the Russian funeral rites which he himself witnessed in the 
9th century. For ten days the friends of the deceased bewailed 
him, and intoxicated themselves over his corpse. Then the 
men-servants were asked, which of them would be buried with 
his master? One of them replied in the affirmative, and was in- 
instantly strangled. The same question was also put to the 
women-servants, one of whom likewise devoted herself. Slie 
was then washed, adorned, and treated like a princess, and did 
nothing but drink and sing. On the appointed day the dead 
man was laid in a boat, with part of his arms and his garments. 
The man-servant was slain with the favorite horse and other do- 
mestic animals and was laid in the boat, to which the young girl 
was then led. She took off her jewels, and with a glass of kvass 
in her hand sang a song that she would only too willingly have 
prolonged. "All at once," says the eye-witness, "the old 
woman who accompanied her, and whom they called the angel 
of death, ordered her to drink quickly, and to enter into the 
cabin of the boat, where lay the dead body of her master. At 
these words she changed color, and as she made some difficul- 
ties about entering, the old woman seized her by the hair, drag- 
ged her in, and entered with her. The men immediately began 
to beat their shields with clubs to prevent the other girls from 
hearing the cries of their companion, which might prevent them 
from one day dying for their masters." While the funeral pile 
blazed, one of the Russians said to our narrator, " You Arabs 
are fools : you hide in the earth the man you have loved best, 
and there he becomes the prey of worms. We, on the contrary, 
burn him up in the twinkling of an eye, that he may the quicker 
enter paradise." Nestor found the rite among the Russian 
Slavs. The excavations made in a great number of kourgans 
(barrows) confirm his testimonv. The discoveries recently made 
in the tombs of Novgorod by M, Ivanouski, prove that the 
Slavs of Ilmen had preserved or adopted the custom of bury- 
ing their dead. In these tombs are found a great quantity of 
arms, instruments, jewels, animals, bones, and grains of wheat ; 
from which we may conclude that the Russian Slavs expected 
the future life to be an exact continuation of the present one, 
and that they surrounded the dead with all the objects that here 
contributed to his happiness. The examination of the human 
bones preserved in the kourgans also confirms the historical ac- 
counts, and proves that servants and female slaves were sacri- 
ficed over the corpse. 



The Slav family was founded on the patriarchal principle. 
The father was the absolute head, and after his death the power 
passed to the eldest of the members composing it : first, to the 
brothers of the deceased, if he had any under his care, then 
successively to his sons, beginning with the eldest. The chief 
had the same rights over the women who entered his family by 
marriage, as over its natural members. 

Their domestic manners seemed to have been very barbarous. 
The monk Nestor may be suspected of exaggeration wherever 
he describes the condition of pagan Russia, which baptism was to 
regenerate. There is no exception to this exaggerated censure 
but in the case of the Polians. " The Drevlians," he tells us, 
" lived after the manner of wild beasts. They cut each other's 
throats, ate impure food, declined all marriage-ties ; they rav- 
ished and stole young girls who came for water to the foun- 
tains The Radimitches, the Viatitches, the Severians lived 

like wild animals in the forests, were fed on all sorts of horrors, 
and spoke of all kinds of shameful things in the presence of 
their sisters-in-law and relatives. . . . They captured women, 
who were willing parties to the transaction, often two or three at 

a time." 

The charges which Nestor chiefly urges against the Slavs, 
are the capture of women and polygamy. This latter charge is 
completely established ; as to the capture, it might be symbol- 
ical. In the text quoted above we see the women " came " to 
the fountain, and that they were parties to the transaction. 
This capture, if we take it for a simple ceremony, may imply, in 
very early times the existence of abduction by violence. To- 
day, the marriage-customs of Russia still preserve traces of 
these ancient usages. There is still a pretended capture of the 
woman ; a custom to be found in the Germany of the 8th cen- 
tury, where the very name of marriage has a pointed significa- 
tion — Brantlauft, the flight of the bride. The songs at Russian 
weddings also imply the existence of a time when the maiden 
was bought. One of these songs accuses the kindred of avarice : 
" Thy brother — the accursed Tatar — has sold his sister for a 
piece of silver." 

Some historians have thought, with Karamsin, that the Slavs 
held women in less consideration than the Germans did, and in 
fact '* treated them as slaves." ■ We may doubt if there was so 
great a difference between the two nations. The chronicles 
speak of Lybed, sister of Kii, the fabulous founder of Kief, 
ddyiding her paternal inheritance with her brothers, and of 


Princess Olga becoming heir and avenger of her husband and 
guardian of his son. Tiie epic songs show us many bold heroines 
side by side with the heroes of the Kievian cycle, and mothers 
of heroes surrounded with wonderful luxury and extraordinary 
honors. The excavations of the koiirgans show us skeletons of 
women richly ornamented with jewels. 

The commune, or mir, was only the expansion of the family ; it 
was subject to the authority of the elders of each household, 
who assembled in a council or vetch/. The village lands were 
held in common by all the members of the association ; the in- 
dividual only possessed his harvest, and the dvor or enclosure 
immediately surrounding his house. This primitive condition 
of property, existing in Russia up to the present day, was 
once common to all European peopJes. 

The communes nearest together formed a group called volost 
ox pagost (canton, parish). The volost was governed by a council 
formed of the elders of the communes : one of these elders, either 
by hereditary right, age, or election, was recognized as more 
powerful than the rest, and became chief of the canton. His 
authority seems much to have resembled that of Ulysses over 
the numerous kings of little Ithaca. In times of danger, the 
volosts of the same tribe could elect a temporary head, but de- 
cline to submit to a general and permanent ruler. The Emper- 
or Maurice had already observed that passion for liberty among 
the Slavs, which made them detest all sovereignty. The Rus- 
sian Slavs easily rose from the idea of a commune to that of a 
canton, with a chief chosen from the elders of the family ; in an 
emergency they might permit a temporary confederation of all 
the cantons of one tribe (dlemia), but we never find that there 
was a prince of the Severians, Polians, or Radimitches. Only 
princes of the volost could exist among them, like the prince of 
Korosthenes in the legend of Olga. The idea of the unity of a 
tribe, and a fortiori the unity of the Russian nation, was abso- 
lutely foreign to the race. The ideas of government and of the 
State had to come to them from without. 


Nestor declares that the Russian Slavs, for the most part, 
" lived in forests like the wild beast." Karamsin and Schloezer 
have concluded from this that they had no towns. Now there 
exist a number of monuments in Russia which have for long 
puzzled archeeologists. There are the gorodichtche's (from gorod, 
town), enclosures formed by the earth being thrown up, and these 
we find invariably on the steep bank of a watercourse, or on a 


small hill. M. Samokvassof, who has explored this very country 
of the Severians, described by Nestor as living wholly in forests, 
has been able to prove that these gorodichtches are the oppida, 
the primitive towns of Russia. In the government of Tcherni- 
gof alone, M. Samokvassof has reckoned 160 ; in that of Koursk. 
50. We may calculate from this that numbers exist in Russia, 
and that every volost had at least one. About these earth-en- 
closures, which were capped by wooden palisades or hedges of 
osier, and were the common means of defence for each group of 
families, we usually find grouped, as in a cemetery, the koiirgans 
or tumuli of the dead. 

The excavations made, either in l\\^ kou7-gans or in the soil of 
the gorodichtchh, have shown us the Slavs were more civilized 
than Nestor supposed. Vessels of pottery, tolerably well de- 
signed, iron and bronze, gold and silver objects, glass, false 
pearls, rattles, prove that they had a certain amount of trade, 
and a fairly extensive commerce, particularly with Asia. Orien- 
tal coins have been dug up, dating from 699, or near two hun- 
dred years before the arrival of. the Varangians. There are a 
great number of these coins in the country. Near Novgorod a 
vase was discovered, containing about 7000 roubles' worth of this 
early money. The fame of the swords made by the Russian 
Slavs extended to Arabia. Nestor relates that the Khazars im- 
posed a tribute of swords on the Polians. When the latter 
brought the arms to the Khazars, they were afraid, and said to 
their princes, " Our swords have only one edge — these have two. 
We tremble lest one day this people should levy a tribute on us 
and other tribes." 

Agriculture was the favorite occupation of the Slavs. Nearly 
all their deities are of an agricultural character. The favorite 
heroes of their epic cycle, Mikoula and Ilia, were the sons of 
laborers. They had the more liking for field life, as the serfags 
of the glebe was still unknown amongst them. It has been said 
that the Germans borrowed the plough from the Slavs, and that 
the German name oi pfiug is derived from the ^]a.v ploug. With 
the wax and honey of their hives, the corn of the Tchernoziom, 
and the furs of the north, the Russians carried on a great trade. 
Their need of strangers, together with a sociable instinct, natu- 
ral to primitive races, made them very hospitable ; it was even 
permitted to steal for the benefit of the unexpected guest. A 
peaceful race, devoted to liberty, music, and dancing, appears 
in the idyllic picture painted for us of the early Slavs. The 
Emperor Maurice, on the contrary, who had had dealings with 
all kinds of adventurous tribes, assures us that they were war- 
like, cruel in battle, full of savage wiles, able to conceal them- 
selves in places where it seemed impossible their bodies could 



be hidden, or to lie in ambush in streams for hours together, the 
"Vater over their heads, breathing by means of a reed. Their 
armor was defective, they had no breast-plates, they fought on 
foot, were naked to the waist, and had for weapons, pikes, large 
shields, wooden bows, poisoned arrows, and lassoes to catch their 
victims. This sketch specially applies to the invaders of the 
Roman provinces of the Danube. It is probable that these ag- 
ricultural races had in general a military organization inferior to 
that of their Turkish and Scandinavian neighbors who lived by 
plunder. The imperfection of their political condition, their 
minute division into clans and volosts, the incessant warfare of 
canton with canton, delivered them up, defenceless, to their in- 
vaders. Whilst the Slavs of the south paid tribute to the Kha- 
zars, the Slavs of Ilmen, exhausted by their divisions, decided 
on calling in the Varangians. " ' Let us seek,' they said, ' a 
prince who will govern us and reason with us justly.' Then," 
continues Nestor, " the Tchouds,f the Slavs (Novgorod), the 
Krivitches, and other confederate races, said to the princes of 
Varangia, ' Our land is great and fruitful, but it lacks order and 
justice ; come and take possession, and govern us.' " 

* The Tchouds here mentioned are rather Slavs who had coloniied tke 
Tohoud country about Pskof and Izborsk. 




The Northmen of Russia — Origin and customs of the Varangians — The first 
Russian princes: Rurik, Oleg, Igor — Expeditions against Constantinople 
— Olga — Christianity in Russia — Sviatoslaf — The Danube dispi^ted be- 
tween the Russians and Greeks. 


Who were these Varangians ? To what race did they be- 
long? No questions in the eaily history of Russia are more 
eagerly debated. After more than a century of controversy, the 
various views have been reduced to three : — 

1. The Varangians were of Scandinavian origin, and it was 
they who imposed the name of Russia on the Slav countries. A 
most weighty argument in support of this theory is the large 
number of Scandinavian names in the list of Varangian princes 
reigning in Russia. The Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, 
speaking of Russia, makes a distinction between the Slavs and 
the Russians proper. Describing the cataracts of the Dnieper, 
he gives to each the Russiati and the Slav name. Now these 
Russian names may nearly all be understood by reference to 
Scandinavian roots. Liutprand, speaking of the Russians, ex- 
presses himself in these terms : — " Grceci vocant Russos . . . fios 
vero Normannos." The Anna/s of Sawt Beriiims say, that the 
Emperor Theophilus recommended some Russian envoys to 
Louis le Ddbonnaire, but he, taking them for Norman spies, 
threw them into prison. Finally, the first Russian Code of Laws, 
compiled by laroslaf, presents a striking analogy with the Scan- 
dinavian laws. The Partisans of this opinion place the mother 
country of the Russians in Sweden, where they point particularly 
to a spot called Roslog, and associations of oarsmen called Ros- 
lagen. At the present day the Finns call the Swedes Rootzi. 

2. The Varangians were Slavs, and came either from the 
Slav shores of the Baltic, or from some Scandinavian region 
where the Slavs had founded a colony. The word Russia is 
not of Swedish origin ; it is applied very early to the country of 
the Dnieper. To come from Rouss or to go to Rojiss are ex- 


pressions to be met with in the ancient documents, and Rouss 
there signifies the country of Kief. Arabic writers give the 
name of Russians to a nation they consider very numerous, and 
they mean in this case, not Scandinavians, but indigenous 

3. The Varangians were not a nation, but a band of war- 
riors formed of exiled adventurers, some Slavs, other Scandina- 
vians. The partisans of this opinion show us the Slav .and 
Scandinavian races from very early times, in frequent commer- 
cial and political relations. The leaders of the band were 
generally Scandinavian, but part of the soldiers were Slav. 
This hypothesis, which diminishes the Norman element in the 
Varangians, serves to explain how the establishment of these 
adventurers in the country but little affected the Slavs of fhe 
Ilmen and the Dnieper. It explains, too, the rapid absorption 
of the new comers in the conquered race, an absorption so com- 
plete that the grandson of Rurik, Sviatoslaf, already bears a 
Slav name, while his great-grandson, Vladimir, remains in the 
memory of the people as the type of Slav prince. Whether the 
Varangians were pure Scandinavians, or whether they were 
mingled with Slav adventurers, it seems certain that the former 
element predominated, and that we may identify these men 
from the North with the sea-kings so celebrated in the West 
during the decay of the Carolings. M. Samokvassof has lately 
opened, near Tchernigof, the black tomb containing the bones 
and arms of an unknown prince who lived in the loth century, 
and was probably a Varangian. His coat-of-mail and pointed 
helmet completely resemble the arms of the Norman warriors. 
The Russian princes that we find in the early miniatures, are 
clothed and armed like the Norman chiefs in the Bayeux 
Tapestry of Queen Matilda. It is therefore not surprising that, 
in our own age, art has made almost identical representations 
of Rurik on the monument lately erected at Novgorod, and of 
William the Conqueror on the monument at Falaise. The 
Varangians, like the Normans, astonished the nations of the 
South by their reckless courage and gigantic stature. " They 
were as tall as palm-trees," said the Arabs. Bold sailors, ad- 
mirable foot-soldiers, the Varangians differed widely from the 
mounted and nomad races of Southern Russia, Hungarians, 
Khazars, Patzinaks, whose tactics were always Parthian. The 
Russians, according to Leo the Deacon, who was an eye-witness 
of the fact, fought in a compact mass, and seemed like a wall of 
iron, bristling with lances, glittering with shields, whence rang 
a ceaseless clamor like the waves of the sea — the famous bar- 
ditus or barritus of the Germans of Tacitus. A huge shield 
covered them to their feet, and, when they fought in retreat, 


they turned this enormous buckler on their backs, and became 
invulnerable. The fury of battle at last made them beside 
themselves, like the Bersarks. Never, says the same author, 
were they seen to surrender. When victory was lost, they 
stabbed themselves, for they held that those who died by the 
hand of an enemy were condemned to serve him in another life. 
The Greeks had for long highly esteemed these heroes worthy of 
the Edda. Under the name of Ros or Varangians, they formed 
the body-guard of the Emperor, and figured in all the Byzantine 
armies. In the expedition of 902 against Crete, 700 Russians 
took part; 415 in that of Lombardy in 925; 584 in that of 
Greece in 949. 

The Russian Varangians readily took the pay of foreign 
nations of Novgorod as well as Byzantium. This is one more 
feature of resemblance with the Normans of France, whom the 
■Greek emperors also employed in their wars with the Saracens 
of Italy. Sometimes, instead of fighting for others, they made 
war for themselves. This was the case with the Danes in Eng- 
land, the Normans in Neustria, the descendants of Tancred in 
Naples and Sicily, the companions of Rurik in Russia. As they 
were usually a very small number, they blended rapidly with 
the conquered nations. Thus the descendants of Rollo quickly 
became Frenchmen, and those of Robert Guiscard, Sicilians. 
In the Varangian bands, Slavs as well as Scandinavians were 
mixed ; but we likewise know that in the bands of Northmen 
that ravaged the country of France, there was a large number 
of Gallo-Romans, renegades from Christianity, who thirsted 
more for pillage and murder than did the Vikings themselves. 
This mingling of the adventurers and the indigenous race ex- 
plains the rapidity with which both the Normans of Russia and 
the Normans of France lost their language, customs and re- 
ligion. The Varangians only retained one thing, their military 
superiority, the habit of obeying the chosen or hereditary chief. 
Into the Slav anarchy they brought this element of warlike and 
disciplined force, without which a State cannot exist. They im- 
posed on the natives the amount of constraint necessary to drag 
them from their isolation and division into gorodichtchh and 
volosts. The Slavs of the Danube also owe their constitution to a 
band of Finno-Bulgarian adventurers under AsparAsparuch ; the 
Polish Slavs to the invasion of the Liakhs or Lechites; the 
Tcheques to the Frank Samo, who enabled them to shake off 
the yoke of the Avars. 

The spontaneous appeal of the Slavs to the Varangian 
princes may seem to us strange. We might believe that the 
annalist, like the old French historians, has tried to disguise the 
fact of a conquest, by representing that the Slavs submitted 


voluntarily to the Varangians of Rurik, as the Gauls are sup* 
posed to have done to the Franks of Clovis. In reality there 
was no conquest, a statement which is proved by the fact that 
the muncipal organization remained intact, that the vetM con- 
tinued to deliberate by the side of the prince, the local army to 
fight in conjunction with the band of adventurers. The laws of 
laroslaf established the same wer-gild for the murder of either 
Slav or Varangian, while the Merovingian laws recognize a great 
difference between a Gallo-Roman and a Frank. The defence 
of the country, the administration of justice, and the collection 
of the tribute were the special cares of the prince, the last being 
considered his legitimate reward. He played in the Slav towns 
a role similar to that of the Italian podestas in the 15th century, 
who were called in to administer justice impartially, or that of 
the leaders of condottieri, to whom the cities entrusted their 

As early as 859 the Varangians exacted tribute from the 
Slavs of Ilmen and the Krivitches, as well as the Tchouds, Ves- 
ses, and Merians. The natives had once expelled the Varan- 
gians, but as divisions once more became rife among them, they 
decided that they needed a strong government, and recalled the 
Varangians in 862. Whether the name of Russia ox oi Rouss 
was originally derived from a province of Sweden, or from the 
banks of the Dnieper, the fact remains that with the arrival of 
the Varangians in Slavonia, the true history of Russia commences 
It was the 1 000th anniversary of this event that was commem- 
orated at Novgorod in 1862. With the Varangians the Russian 
name became famous in Eastern Europe. It was the epoch of 
brilliant and adventurous expeditions ; it was the heroic age of 

The Varangians of Novgorod and Kief are not unworthy 
mates of the Normans of the West — the bold conquerors who 
sought their fortunes from the coasts of England, Sicily, and 
Syria. They are to be found nearly at the same time under the 
walls of Constantinople and at the foot of the Caucasus, where 
they captured the town of Berdaa from the Arabs (944). Nes- 
tor, the monk of the Petcherski convent at Kief, whose history 
extends to 11 16, adds to his conscientious accounts many legen- 
dary traits, which seem an echo of Scandinavian j-^^^j and early 
Russian bylinas. His Annals, which Greek and French author- 
ities enable us to check, and which are tolerably exact in all es- 
sentials, seem at times, like the first books of Livy, to be epic 
poetry converted into prose. 



At the call of the Slavs, Rurik, Sineous and Trouvor, three 
Varangian brothers, whose Scandinavian names signify the 
Peaceful, the Victorious, and the Faithful, gathered together 
" their brothers and their families," that is, their warriors or 
^rtf«yV«(f J (resembling the truste of the Frank kings), crossed the 
Baltic and took up their positions on the borders of the terri- 
tory they were summoned to defend. Rurik, the eldest, estab- 
lished himself on the lake Ladoga, near to which, on the 
southern side, he founded the city of Ladoga ; Sineous on the 
White Lake (Bidloe-Ozero), in the Vess country ; Trouvor at 
Izborsk, to hold the Livonians in check. When the two latter 
died, Rurik established himself at Novgorod, where he built, not 
a town as Nestor would have us believe, but a castle. It is 
thus we must explain the pretended foundation by his orders of 
Polotsk and of Rostof, which, had existed long before the ar- 
rival of the Varangians. What he probably did was to trans- 
form ancient gorodichtche's with ramparts of mud into fortresses. 
Two other Varangians, Askold and Dir, who were not of the 
family of Rurik, went down to Kief, and reigned over the Pol- 
ians. It was they who began the expeditions against Tzargrad 
(Byzantium), the queen of cities. With 200 vessels, says Nestor, 
they entered the Sound, in old Slav Soud (the Bosphorus or the 
Golden Horn), and besieged Constantinople. But the patriarch 
Photius, according to the Byzantine accounts, took the wonder- 
working robe of Our Lady of Blachernes, and plunged it in th-e 
waves. A fierce tempest instantly arose, and the whole Russian 
fleet was destroyed. 

Rurik's successor was not his son Igor, then a minor, but the 
eldest member of the family, his fourth brother, the enterprising 
Oleg. At the head of an army composed of Varangians, Slavs 
and Finns, he marched to the south, received the submission of 
Smolensk and Loubetch, and arrived under the walls of Kief, 
By means of treachery he took Askold and Dir prisoners, and 
put them to death, observing : " You are neither princes your- 
selves, nor of the blood of princes ; this is the son of Rurik," point- 
ing to Igor. The tomb of Askold is still shown near Kief. Oleg 
was charmed with his new conquest, and took up his abode t^ere, 
saying, " Let Kief be the mother of Russian cities." The Va- 
rangian chief held communication both with the Baltic and the 
Black Sea by means of Novgorod, Smolensk, and Kief. He 
subdued the Novgorodians, the Krivitches, the Merian«, the 
Drevlians, the Severians, the Polians, the Radimitches, and thus 
V0I. 1 Russia 3 



united nearly all the Russian tribes under his sceptre. It was 
about this time that the Hungarians crossed the Dnieper near 
Kief, and invaded Pannonia. The Magyar chronicles speak of 
their having defeated Oleg ; Nestor is silent on the subject. 

In 907 Oleg collected a large army from among the tributary 
races, equipped 2000 boats, and prepared to invade Tzargrad 
by land and sea. Russian legends have embellished this expe- 
dition with many wonderful details, Oleg built wheels to his 
vessels, and spread their sails ; blown by the wind they reached 
the gates of the city. Leo VI. the Philosopher, horror-stricken, 
agreed to pay tribute, but the Greeks tried to get rid of the 
Russians by offering them poisoned food. Oleg divined their 
perfidy. He imposed a heavy contribution, a commerical treaty 
advantageous to the Russians, and suspended his shield on the 
Golden Door. 

To his subjects Oleg was more than a hero. Terror-stricken 
by his wisdom, this "foolish and idolatrous people " looked on 
him as a sorcerer. In the Scandinavian sagas we find many in- 
stances of chiefs, such as Odin, Gylf and Raude, being at the 
same time great warriors and great magicians. It is strange 
that neither Greek, Frank, nor Venetian historians allude to 
this campaign. Nestor cites the names of the Russian envoys 
who negotiated the peace, and gives the text of the treaty. 

A magician had predicted to Oleg that his favorite horse 
would cause his death. It was kept apart from him, and when, 
five years after, the animal died, he insisted on being taken to 
see its body, as a triumph over the ignorance and imposture of 
the sorcerers. But from the skull of the horse issued a serpent 
which inflicted a mortal sting on the foot of the hero. 

Igor led a third expedition against Tzargrad. The Dnieper 
conducted, as it were of her own will, the Russian flotilla to the 
seas of Greece. Igor had 10,000 vessels according to the 
Greek historians, 1000 according to the more probable calcula- 
tion of Liutprand. This would allow 400,000 men in the first 
case, and only 40,000 in the second. Instead of attacking the 
town, he cruelly ravaged the Greek provinces. The Byzantine 
admirals and generals united, and destroyed the Russian army 
in a series of engagements by the aid of Greek fire. Nestor has 
not copied the numerous details the Byzantine historians give of 
this battle, but we have the evidence of Liutprand, bishop ot 
Cremona, derived from his father-in-law, the ambassador of the 
king of Italy at Constantinople, who saw with his own eyes the 
defeat of Igor, and was present at the sacrifice of prisoners, be' 
headed by order of the Emperor Romanus Lecapenus. In 944 
Igor secured the help of the formidable Patzinaks, and organized 
an expedition to avenge his defeat. The Greek Emperor, now 



seriously alarmed, offered to pay tribute, and signed a new com- 
mercial treaty, of which the text is given by Nestor. Byzantine 
and Western writers do not mention this second expedition of 
Igor. On his return from Russia, he was assassinated by the 
Drevlians, from whom he had tried to exact tribute. Leo the 
Deacon, a Greek writer, says he was torn in pieces by means of 
two young trees, bent forcibly to the earth, and then allowed to 
take their natural direction (945). 


Olga, widow of Igor, assumed the regency in the name of 
her son Sviatoslaf, then a minor. Her first care was to revenge 
herself on the Drevlians. In Nestor's account it is impossible 
to distinguish between the history and the epic. The Russian 
chronicler relates in detail how the Drevlians sent two deputa- 
tions to Olga to appease her, and to offer her the hand of their 
prince, and how she disposed of them by treachery, burying 
some alive, and causing others to be stifled in a bathing-house. 
Next, says Nestor, she besieged their city Korosthenes, and she 
offered them peace on payment of a tribute of three pigeons 
and three sparrows for each house. Lighted tow was tied to 
the tails of the birds, and they were set free. They flew straight 
home to the wooden town, where the barns and thatched roofs 
instantly took fire. Lastly the legend relates that Olga massa- 
cred part of the Korosthenians, and the rest became slaves. 

This vindictive Scandinavian woman, in spite of all, was des- 
tined to be the first apostle of Russia. Nestor relates that she 
went to Tzargrad to the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, 
astonished him by the strength and adroitness of her charar<-er, 
and was baptized under the name of Helen, the Greek Tzar be- 
ing her godfather. Only two facts in Nestor's account are 
historical, namely, the reception of Olga at the imperial palace 
of Constantinople, related in detail in the * Book of Ceremo- 
nies,' and perhaps her baptism. If the Greek historians do not 
mention it in the contemporary chronicles, it is because they 
did not perceive the important consequences of this event. If 
writers allude to it in the chronicles of the nth and 12th cen- 
turies, it is because the consequences of the event had by that 
time been completely developed. * 

Even in Russia Olga's conversion passed almost unnoticed. 

Christianity had made but little progress in that country. No 

doubt since Cyril and Methodius had invented the Slav0/»ic 

alphabet, and translated the Holy Books for th' Rulgar^. <s» 

• A. Rambaud, / L'Empire grec au dixiime si^cle, p. 38 .'^- 



Christianity, which had already triumphed over some Slav 
peoples, was being handed on from one to the other. Some 
missions were already established in Russia. The Byzantines 
say, that alarmed by the miraculous defeat of Askold and Dir, 
and seized with a respectful awe of the Christian talismans of 
the Patriarch Photius, the Russians " sent envoys to Constanti- 
nople to ask for baptism." The Emperor Basil the Macedonian 
then gave them an archbishop, who performed a miracle before 
them. He threw a copy of the Gospels into a brazier, and drew 
it out unharmed. According to this account, Askold was the 
first Russian prince who became a Christian. Hence the wor- 
ship rendered to his tomb and memory. In the list of Byzar- 
tine Eparchies under Leo VI., the Bishopric of Russia figures, 
of which no doubt Kief was the metropolis. These missions, 
however, do not seem to have been very successful ; at the time 
of the treaty concluded between Oleg and Leo VI., the Rus- 
sians still swore by their swords, by Voloss and Perun. In the 
treaty concluded by Igor, when the Russians swore at Kief be- 
fore the Emperor's envoy, to confirm it, some ascended the hill 
of Perun and performed the vows in the ancient way ; others 
went to the chapel of Saint Elias, and laid their hand on the 
Gospel. There existed then, in the "mother of Russian cities," 
a Christian community, though a very weak one, if it is true that 
Olga refused to be baptized in Kief "for fear of the pagans." 
The mass of warriors kept Christianity at a distance. In their 
expeditions against the Bvzantine provinces, we find them at- 
tacking monasteries and churches by preference, giving them up 
to the flames, and finding a peculiar pleasure in torturing priests 
and monks by driving nails into their heads. It was thus that 
the Normans of France, the fanatics of Odinism, treated the 
ecclesiastics with refinements of cruelty, boasting that they 
" sang them the Mass of lances." " When one of the soldiers 
of the Grand Prince wished to become a convert," says Nestor, 
" he was not prevented, but only laughed at." The efforts of 
Olga for the conversion of her son Sviatoslaf, who had assumed 
the reins of government on reaching his majority, were fruitless. 
He did not like exposing himself to the ridicule of his soldiers 
by embracing a new faith. " My men will mock me," he replied 
to the prayers of his mother. " And often," Nestor affirms 
sadly, " he became furious with her." Olga vainly assured him 
that if he would be baptized, all his subjects would soon follow 
his example. The public mind was not yet in a condition for 
the example of the prince to be all-powerful. The Christian 
Olga, canonized by the Church, " the first Russian who i. u<jnt- 
ed to the heavenly kingdom," remained an exception, it,/xJe 
noticed or t-kought of in the midst of the pagan aristocrac)i 




The reign of Sviatoslaf, 664-972, though short, was signaliz- 
ed by two memorable events : the defeat of the Khazars, and 
the great war against the Bvzantine Empire for the possession 
of Bulgaria. About the former event the annalist gives few de- 
tails ; but Sviatoslaf must have gained a complete victory, if it 
be true that he took the White City, capital of the Khazar Em- 
pire on the Don, and that he exacted tribute from the lasses or 
Ossets of the Caucasus, and the Kassogans or Tcherkesses. 
The Russians had no reason to rejoice in their success, for the 
decline of the Khazars, who were a civilized people, favored the 
progress of the Patzinaks, the most ferocious oi all barbarians. 
The Arabs spoke of them as wild beasts and Matthew of Edessa 
calls them " a greedy people, devouring the bodies of mei^ 
corrupt and impure, bloody and cruel beasts." During one of 
the frequent absences of Sviatoslaf, the Patzin?ks suddenly ap- 
peared under the walls of Kief, where the mother and children 
of the Grand Prince had taken refuge, and reduced it to the 
last extremity. The bold manoeuvre of a voievode saved the 
Kievians, who were starving. On his return to his capital, 
Sviatoslaf was horrified at the risks it had encountered. It 
was at the hands of these same Patzinaks that he was one day 
to perish. 

On the subject of the Bulgarian war the narrative of Nestor 
is confused and incomplete. He is silent about the Russian 
defeats, and legend mixes largely with historical facts. Nestor 
relates that the Greeks wished to ascertain what sort of man 
Sviatoslaf was. They sent him gifts of gold and fine tissues, but 
the Grand Prince looked on them with disdain, and said to his 
soldiers, " Take them away." Then they sent him a sword and 
other weapons, and the hero seized them and kissed them en- 
thusiastically. The Greeks were afraid, and said, " This must 
be a fierce man, since he despises wealth and accepts a sword 
for tribute." Happily the very minute account of Leo the Deacon 
appears both exact and impartial, and we are enabled to follow 
this campaign, where a chief of infant Russia crosses that Danube 
which the Russian armies are not again to see till the reign of 
Catherine II. and Nicholas. The Greek Emperor Nicephorus 
Phocas, in order to avenge himself on Peter the Tzar of Bulgaria, 
had recourse to the dangerous expedient so frequent in Bvzantine 
policy. He called in the barbarians. A certain Kalokyr was 
sent as envoy to Sviatoslaf with a sufficient sum of money to allow 
him to take the fiield. It was thus that these two Slav races— 



who owned their constitutions, one to the Varangian droufina 
of Rurik, the other to the Turanian droujina of Asparuch — were 
urged to conflict by Greek diplomacy. Sviatoslaf descended on 
Bulgaria with a thoroughly-equipped fleet, reassured the Byzan- 
tines by bringing 60,000 men to their assistance, took Pereiaslaf, 
the Bulgarian capital, and all their fortresses. 

The Tzar Peter yielded to his evil destiny at the moment the 
Patzinaks were besieging Kief. This lesson was, however, lost 
on Sviatoslaf. He was everjoyed at his conquest, and wished to 
transport his capital to Pereiaslaf on the Danube, a city distinct 
from Pereiaslaf or Prislaf, the modern Eski-Stamboul, which was 
the capital of the Bulgarians in the loth century. "This place,'' 
he said to his mother, " is the central point of my possessions, 
and abounds in wealth. From Greece come precious stuffs, wine, 
gold, and all kinds of fruit ; from the country of the Tcheques 
and Hungarians, horses and silver ; from Russia, furs, money, 
wax, and slaves." This resolution of Sviatoslaf was fraught with 
immense danger to the Greek Empire, If Byzantium feared the 
neighborhood of an enfeebled Bulgaria, how was she to resist a 
power that extended from the Baltic to the Balkans, and which 
could add to the Bulgarian legions, disciplined after the Roman 
fashion by the Tzar Simeon, the Varangians of Scandinavia, 
the Russian Slavs, the Finnish hordes of the Vesses, Tchouds, 
and Merians, and even the light cavalry of the Patzinaks ? 

The formation of a great Slav Empire so close to Constanti- 
nople would have been rendered more formidable by the ethno- 
graphical constitution of the peninsula. Ancient Thrace and 
ancient Macedon were peopled by Slav tribes, some of whom 
were offshoots from the Russian tribes ; for example, Drego- 
vitches and Smolenes were to be found there as much as at Minsk 
and Smolensk. Thessaly, Attica, and the Peloponnesus were 
invaded by these emigrants, who became the subjects of the 
Greek Empire. The famous mountain Taygetus, in Laconia, 
was inhabited by two Slav tribes, still unsubdued — the Milingians 
and the Ezerites. We must not forget that Bulgaria extended 
as far as the Ochrid, and that the ancient provinces under the 
names of Croatia, Servia, and Dalmatia, had become almost 
entirely Slav. This great race extended then almost unbroken 
from the Peloponnesus, already called by the Slav name of Morea, 
to Novgorod. Thus, if the town of Pereiaslaf on the Danube 
had really become the centre of the Russian dominions, accord- 
ing to the wish of Sviatoslaf, the Greek race and the Roman 
domination in the Balkan peninsula would speedily have come 
to an end. The Greek emperors had been able to resist Askold, 
Oleg, and Igor. The Russians of their day had lived far from 
the Empire, and were obliged to go by water, which limited 



greatly the number of their armies. With their canoes hollowed 
out of the trunks of trees, such as are now to be seen in the 
Russian villages, they had to descend the Dnieper, disembark at 
each of the seven cataracts, carry canoes (monoxyles) till they 
could re-embark further on, and all the while gave battle to the 
Patzinaks, who were in ambush behind the rocks. After they 
had escaped these perils, they had to brave with their frail barks 
the tempests of the Black Sea, the powerful Roman galleys 
manned by the best sailors of the East, and the mysterious Greek 
fire which filled them with terror. Few reached the walls of 
Constantinople, and their defeat was certain. Now, on the con- 
trary, masters of the Danube, masters of the land-route, they 
could precipitate on Constantinople all the hordes of Scythia. 

Fortunately for the Greek Empire, it then chanced to be re- 
newing its youth. A series of great captains succeeded each 
other on this tottering throne. In John Zimisces the Russian 
prince was to find an adversary worthy of him. Sviatoslaf, re- 
called to Bulgaria, had been obliged to reconquer it. It was at 
this moment that Zimisces summoned him to execute the condi- 
tions of the treaty concluded with his predecessor ; that is, to 
evacuate the country. Sviatoslaf, who had just taken Philippopolis 
and exterminated the inhabitants, replied haughtily that he hoped 
soon to be at Constantinople. Zimisces then began his prepara- 
tions. In the beginning of March 972, he despatched a fleet to 
the north of the Danube, and himself marched to Adrianople. 
He surprised the Russians, who had not expected him so soon, 
in the defiles of the Balkans ; appeared suddenly under the walls 
of Pereiaslaf, defeated a body of many thousand Russians, and 
obliged them to retire within the walls ; then he gave the order 
for the assault, and took the town by escalade. Eight thousand 
Russians shut up in the royal castle made a frantic resistance, 
refused to capitulate, and perished in the flames. 

When the news of this disaster reached Sviatoslaf, he advanced 
with the greater part of his army to meet the Emperor, and came 
up with him near Dorostol (Silistria). The Greek historians 
make the Russian army to have consisted of at least 60,000 
men ; Nestor only reckons 10,000. Here a bloody battle took 
place, and twelve times victory appeared to shift from one side 
to the other. The solidity of the Russian infantry defied the 
charges of the cavalry — " the Ironside " (Kara^pa/cToi). 
At last they gave way under a desperate charge, and fell back on 
Dorostol. There they were besieged by the Emperor, and dis- 
played a wild courage in their sallies. Even their women, like 
the ancient Amazons, or the heroines of the Scandinavian sagas 
or Russian songs, took part in the melee. The Russians slew 
themselves rather than ask for mercy. The night following on 



an action, they were seen to leave the town by moonlight to burn 
their dead. On their ashes they sacriticed prisoners of war, and 
drowned in the Danube cocl-cs and little children. Provisions 
failed, and Sviatoslaf stole out one stormy night with canoes 
manned by 2000 warriors, rowed round the Greek fleet, collected 
millet and corn in the neighboring villages, and, falling suddenly 
on the Greeks, re-entered the town victoriously. Zimisces then 
took measures to prevent any boat from getting out. This epic- 
siege was signalized by some strange combats. One of the 
bravest of the Russian chiefs was slain by Apemas, a baptized 
Arab, son of an Emir of Crete, and himself one of the guards of 

Sviatoslaf resolved to make one last effort, and issued from 
the town with all his forces. Before the battle Zimisces proposed 
to Sviatoslaf to terminate the war bv a duel between themselves. 
It was the barbarian who refused: "I know better than my 
enemy what I have to do," said Sviatoslaf. " If he is weary of 
life, there are a thousand means by which he can end his days." 
This battle was as obstinate and bloody as the former. Sviatoslaf 
came near being slain by Apemas. At last the Russians gave 
way, leaving on the battlefield, says Leo the Deacon, 15,500 dead 
and 20,000 shields. The survivors retired into the town. They 
were forced to treat. Zimisces allowed them to retire from Bul- 
garia, and they swore by Perun and Voloss never again to invade 
the empire, but to help to defend it against all enemies. If they 
broke their vows, might they "become as yellow as gold, and perish 
by their own arms." Nestor gives us the text of this convention, 
which was really a capitulation, and confirms the account of the 
Greek historians rather than his own. These relate that Zimisces 
sent deputies to the Patzinaks to beg them to grant a free passage 
to the remnant of the Russian army. It is certain that the barbar- 
ians awaited the Russians at the Cataracts, ox porogs of the Dnie- 
per. They killed Sviatoslaf, cut off his head, and his skull was 
used by their Prince Kouria as a drinking-cup. Sviatoslaf was, in 
spite of his Slav name, the very type of a Varangian prince of 
the intrepid, wily, and ambitious Northmen. Nestor boasts his 
good faith. When he wished to make war on a people, he sent to 
warn them. " I march against you," he said. 

After the surrender of Dorostol, he had an interview with his 
enemy Zimisces. Leo the Deacon profits by the occasion to 
give us his portrait. The Emperor being on horseback by the 
shore, Sviatoslaf approached him by boat, handling the oar like 
his companions. He was of middle height, but very robust ; he 
had a wide chest, a thick neck, blue eyes, thick eyebrows, a flat 
nose, long mustaches, a thin beard, and a tuft of hair on his 
shaven head as a mark of his nobility. He wore a gold ring in 



one of his ears, ornamented with rubies and two pearls. 
Let us notice this portrait ; we shall have to search far into 
Russian annals to find another. Between the description given 
by Leo the Deacon and those of the Russian annalists, there 
is the same difference as between the eikon of a saint and an 
authentic likeness. 




Vladimir (972-1015 ) — Conversion of the Russians — laroslaf the Great (1016- 
1054 — Union of Russia — Splendor of Kief — Varangian-Russian society at 
the time of laroslaf — Progress of Christianity — Social, political, literary, 
and artistic results. 


The Slav tribes owe their organization to a twofold conquest — 
a military conquest which came from the North, and an ecclesias- 
tical conquest which came from the South. The Varangians 
sent them chiefs of war, who welded their scattered tribes 
into a nation ; the Byzantines sent missionaries, who united the 
Slavs among themselves and to their civilized neighbors by the 
bonds of a common religion. 

The man destined to conclude the work of propagandism be- 
gun by Olga did not at first seem fitted for this great task. Vladi- 
mir, like Clovis, was at first nothing but a barbarian — wily, 
voluptuous, and bloody. Only while Clovis after his baptism is 
not perceptibly better than he was before, and becomes the 
assassin of his royal Frankish relations, the Russian annalist 
seems to wish to establish a contrast between the life led by 
Vladimir prior to his conversion and the life he led after it. 
Sviatoslaf left three sons : laropolk at Kief, Oleg ruler of the 
Drevlians, Vladimir at Novgorod. In the civil wars which 
followed, and which recall the bloody Merovingian anarchy, laro- 
polk slew Oleg, and in his turn died by the hand of Vladimir. 
He fell in love with Rogneda, laropolk's betrothed, and demand- 
ed her in marriage from the Varangian Rogvolod, who ruled over 
Polotsk. The princess answered, that she would never marry 
the son of a slave, in allusion to Vladimir's mother having been 
a servant, though he himself had always been treated by his 
father as his brother's equal. Maddened by this insult, Vladimir 
sacked Polotsk, killed Rogvolod and his two sons, and forced Rog- 
neda to marry him. After the murder of laropolk, Vladimir also 
took the wife whom laropolk had left enceinte, a beautiful Greek 
nun, captured in an expedition against Byzantium. These two wo* 



men he had deprived, one of her husband, the other of her father 
and brothers. He had, besides, a Bohemian and a Bulgarian 
wife, and another, all of whom bore him sons. Finally this bas. 
tard, this " son of a slave," was so abandoned in his profligacy, 
that he kept 300 concubines at Vychegorod, 3000 at Bielgorod, 
near Kief, and 200 at Berestof. Lusting no less after war and 
plunder, he reconquered Red Russia from the Poles, quelled a 
revolt of the Viatitches and Radimitches, and exacted tribute 
from the Lithuanian latvaguians, and Livonian tribes of Letts 
or Finns. 

The soul of the sensual and passionate barbarian was trou- 
bled, notwithstanding, by religious aspirations. At first he 
turned to the Slav gods, and his reign was inaugurated by anew 
growth of paganism. On the high sandy cliffs of Kief, which 
tower above the Dnieper, he erected idols ; among them one of 
Perun, with a head of silver and a beard of gold. Two Varan- 
gians, father and son, both Christians, were stabbed at the feet 
of Perun. But the day of the ancient gods was passed ; Vlad- 
imir was undergoing the religious crisis in which all Russia 
labored. He felt other faiths were necessary to him ; so, ac- 
cording to the testimony of Nestor, he took it into his head, like 
the Japanese of to-day, to institute a search after the best re- 
ligion. His ambassadors forthwith visited Mussulmans, Jews, 
and Catholics : the first represented by the Bulgarians of the 
Volga, the second probably by the Khazars or the Jewish Khar- 
aites, the third by the Poles and Germans. Vladimir declined 
Islamism, which prescribed circumcision and forbade " the wine, 
which was dear to the Russians ; " Judaism, whose disciples 
wandered through the earth; and Catholicism, whose cere- 
monies appeared wanting in magnificence. The deputies that 
he sent to Constantinople, on the contrarj^, returned awe- 
stricken. The splendors of Saint Sophia, the brilliancy of the 
sacerdotal vestments, the magnificence of the ceremonies, 
heightened by the presence of the Emperor and his Court, the 
patriarch and the numerous clergy, the incense, the religious 
songs, had powerfully appealed to the imagination of the bar- 
barians. One final argument triumphed over the scruples of 
Vladimir. " If the Greek religion had not been the best, your 
grandmother Olga, the wisest of mortals, would not have 
adopted it," said the boyards. The proud Vladimir did not in- 
tend to beg for baptism at the hands of the Greeks — he would 
conquer it by his own arms, and ravish it like a prey. He de- 
scended into the Taurid and besieged Cherson, the last city of 
this region that remained subject to the Emperors. A certain 
Anastasius, possibly from religious motives, betrayed his coun- 
try. Rendered prouder than ever by this important conquest, 


Vladimir sent an embassy to the Greek Emperors Basil and 
Constantine, demanding their sister Anne in marriage, and 
threatening, in case of refusal, to march on Constantinople; It 
was not the first time tlie barbarians had made this proposal to 
the Greek Caesars, and Constantine Porphyrogenitus himself 
teaches his successors how to get rid of these inconvenient de- 
mands. But on this occasion the Emperors, who were occupied 
with revolts in the interior, thought themselves driven to con- 
sent, on condition that Vladimir was baptized. It was in Cher- 
son that the Russian prince received baptism, and celebrated 
his marriage with the heiress of the Emperors of Rome. The 
priests he brought to Kief were his captives ; the sacred orna- 
ments, the holy relics with which he enriched and sanctified his 
capital, were his booty. When he returned to Kief it was as an 
Apostle {Isapostolos)^ but as an armed Apostle that he cate- 
chized his people. The idols were pulled down amid the tears 
and fright of the people, Perun was flogged and thrown into 
the Dnieper. They still show on the side of the Kievan cliffs 
the rock called " The Devil's Leap ; " and further away, the 
the place where Perun was thrown up by the waters on the 
shore. The people instantly rushed to worship him, but the 
soldiers of Vladimir cast him back into the river. Then, by 
Vladimir's order, all the Kievans, men and women, masters and 
slaves, old people and little children, plunged naked into the 
consecrated waters of the old pagan stream, while the Greek 
priests standing on the bank with Vladimir read the baptismal 
service. After a sturdy resistance, the Novgorodians were in 
like manner forced to hurl Perun into the Volkhoff, and enter it 

We have already seen that the Russians had not lost all 
recollections of their ancient gods, and that nature was still the 
home of a whole world of deities. A long time had to pass 
before Christianity could penetrate into their hearts and cus- 
toms. M. Bouslaef assures us that, even in the 12th century, 
Christian rites were only practised by the higher classes. The 
peasants kept their old pagan ceremonies, and continued to 
contract their marriages " around the bush of broom." They 
preserved even longer their faith in magicians and sorcerers, 
who were often of more authority than the priests. Vladimir, at 
any rate, wished to prepare the transformation. It does not 
appear that he persecuted the idolaters, but he occupied him- 
self in adorning the churches of his capital, which he had shorn 
of its idols. On the spot where Perun stood he built the church 
of Saint Basil, the Greek name which he had taken at his bap- 
tism. On the place where the two Varangian martyrs had been 
slaiw by his orders he raised the church of the D^ciatine or the 


Dime, embellished and ornamented with Greek inscriptions by 
artists who came from the South. He founded schools, where 
boys studied the holy books translated into Slavonic, but he was 
obliged to compel the attendance of the children, whose parents, 
convinced that writing was a dangerous kind of magic, shed tears 
of despair. Nestor cannot sufficiently praise the reformation of 
Vladimir after his baptism. He was faithful to his Greek wife, 
he no longer loved war, he distributed his revenues to the 
churches and to the poor, and, in spite of the increase of crime, 
hesitated to inflict capital puhishment. " I fear to sin," he re- 
plied to his councillors. It was the bishops who had to recall 
to him the fact that " criminals must be chastised, though with 
discretion," and that the country must not be left a prey to the 
Patzinaks. Vladimir, who reminded us formerly of a Northman 
of the type of Robert the Devil, suddenly becomes the " good 
King Robert " of Russia. 

His wars with the Patzinaks are recorded by Nestor with all 
kinds of episodes borrowed from the epic poetry. There is the 
Russian champion who tears in pieces the furious bull, or stifles 
a Patzinak giant in his arms ; there are the inhabitants of Biel- 
gorod, who, having been reduced to famine by the barbarians, 
let down into wells two large caldrons, one full of hydromel and 
the other of meal, to make the Patzinaks believe these were nat- 
ural productions of the soil. We see in the popular songs of 
what a marvellous cycle of legends Vladimir has become the 
centre ; but in these bylinas he is neither Vladimir, the Baptist, 
nor the Saint Vladimir of the orthodox Church, but a solar 
hero, successor of the divinities whom he destroyed. To the 
people, still pagans at heart, Vladimir is always the " Beautiful 
Sun " of Kief. 


Vladimir died in 1015, leaving a large number of heirs by 
his numerous wives. The partition that he made between them 
of his states tells us what was the extent of Russia at that epoch. 
To laroslaf he gave Novgorod ; to Isiaslaf, son of Rogneda, and 
grandson of the Varangian Rogvolod, Polotsk ; to Boris, Rostof ; 
to Gleb, Mourom (these two principalities were in the Finn 
country) ; to Sviatoslaf, the Drevlians ; to Vsevolod, Vladimir 
in Volhynia ; to Mstislaf, Tmoutorakan, the Tamatarchia of the 
Greeks ; finally, to his nephew Sviatopolk, the son of his brother 
and victim laropolk, the principality of Tourof, in the country 
of Minsk, founded by a Varangian named Tour, who did not be- 


long to the " blood of princes " any more than Askold and Din 
The history of Vladimir's successors recalls that of the heirs of 
Clovis. The murder of the sons of Clodomir is paralleled by 
the assassination of Boris and Gleb, sons of Isapostolos^ by the 
order of Sviatopolk, who usurped the throne of Kief. His two 
victims were canonized, and henceforth became inseparable, and 
are, as it were, the Dioscuri of orthodoxy. The prince of the 
Drevlians perished by the same hand. laroslaf resolved to 
avenge his brothers and to save himself. At this moment, how- 
ever, he had alienated his Novgorodian subjects, having en- 
ticed the principal citizens into his castle, and then treacher- 
ously slain them. When he learnt the crimes of Sviatopolk, he 
trembled for his own life, and threw himself on the generosity 
of those he had so cruelly outraged. He wept for his sins be- 
fore them, and besought their help. " Prince," replied the 
Novgorodians, with one voice, " you have destroyed our breth- 
ren, but we are ready to fight for you." After a bloody war, in 
which Boleslas the Brave, king of Poland took part, the usurper 
fled, and died miserably in exile. laroslaf had still to defend 
himself against the Prince of Polotsk and Mstislaf of Tmou- 
torakan. The latter had acquired great fame from his wars 
with the Khazars, whom, with the aid of the Greek Emperor, 
Basil II., he finally annihilated, and with the Tcherkess, whose 
chief, a giant named Rhededia, he slew in single combat. At 
last, laroslaf remained the sole master of Russia, and reigned 
gloriously at Kief. He recalls Charles the Great by some suc- 
cessful wars, but particularly by his code of laws, his taste for 
building, and his love of letters in a barbarous age. He owes 
part of his reputation to the anarchy which followed his death, 
and which caused his reign to be regretted as the climax of 
Kievian greatness. . 

In Poland laroslaf revenged on the son of Boleslas the 
Brave the invasions of his father, and took from him the towns 
of Red Russia. He fought a bloody battle with the Patzinaks 
under the walls of Kief, and in their flight part of the van- 
quished barbarians were drowned in crossing the rivers. It was 
as fatal a blow to the Patzinaks as that struck by Sviatoslaf at 
the Khazars : they never recovered it. But in the same man- 
ner as the defeat of the Khazars opened the way to the Pat- 
zinaks, the ruin of the Patzinaks opened the way to the Polovtsi. 
The steppes of the Don were incessantly filled by new hordes 
from Asia. laroslaf also fought against the Finnish and Lithu- 
anian tribes. In the country of the Tchouds he founded lourief 
(Saint George) on the Embach, near the Peipus (the Germans 
called it Dorpat) ; in the country of the Merians, he founded 
laroslavl on the Upper Volga. Finally, his reign was marked 


by a new war with Greece, brought on by mercantile disputes. 
His son Vladimir, leader of the expedition, rejected proudly the 
propositions of the Emperor Constanline Monomachus. A 
naval battle was fought in the Bosphorus ; Greek fire and the 
tempests of the Black Sea dispersed the Russian armament. 
Part of the army, a body of 8000 men, which was retreating 
into Russia by land, was attacked and exterminated by a Greek 
force : 800 prisoners were sent to Constantinople, where their 
eyes were put out. Notwithstanding the bonds of religion which 
had been riveted between the Byzantines and their neophytes 
on the Dnieper, the Russians were always dreaded by Constan- 
tinople. An inscription hidden in the boot of one of the eques- 
trian statues of Byzantium announced that the day would come 
when the capital of the empire would fall a prey to the men of 
the North. The decay of Kievian Russia after the death of 
laroslaf, adjourned or nullified the fulfilment of this prophecy. 

The legislation of the Russian Charlemagne is comprised in 
the Code entitled Rousska'ia Fravda the Russian right or verity. 
This Code strangely recalls that of Scandinavia. It consecrates 
private revenge, and the pursuit of an assassin by all the rela- 
tives of the dead ; it fixes the wergeld for different crimes, as 
well as the fine paid into the royal treasury ; it allows the judi* 
cial duel ; the ordeal by red-hot iron and boiling water ; the 
oath corroborated by those of the compurgaiores ; it also estab- 
lished by the side of the judges nominated by the Prince, a jury 
of twelve citizens. In the " Rousskaia Pravda," there is not, 
properly speaking, any criminal law. Capital punishment, death 
by refinements of cruelty, corporal chastisement, torture to 
wring out confessions, even a public prison, were all unknown. 
These are Scandinavian and German principles in all their 
purity. At this period Russia had almost the same laws as the 

laroslaf occupied a glorious place among the princes of his 
time. His sister Mary was married to Casimir, king ot Poland; 
his daughters also became the wives of kings : Elizabeth, of 
Harold the Brave, king of Norway; Anne, of Henry I., king of 
France ; Anastasia, of Andrew I., king of Hungary. Of his 
sons, Vladimir, the eldest, is said to have married Githa, daugh- 
ter of Harold, king of England ; Isiaslaf, a daughter of Micislas 
II., king of Poland ; Vseslaf, a Greek princess, daughter of 
Constantine Monomachus ; Viatcheslaf and Igor, two German 
princesses. laroslaf gave an asylum to the proscribed princes, 
Saint Olaf, king of Norway, and his two sons ; a prince of 
Sweden ; Edwin and Edward, sons of Edmund Ironside, king of 
England, expelled from their country by Knut the Great. ''I'he 
Varangian dynasty was thus mingled with the families of the 


Christian princes, and we may say of the Russia of the nth 
century, what we can no longer say of the Russia of the i6th 
century, that she was a European State. 

To Kief was destined the lot of Anchen, the capital of 
Charles the Great, which, glorious in his life, after his death fell 
into decay. Under laroslaf, kief reached the highest pinnacle 
of splendor. He wished to make his capital the rival of Con- 
stantinople ; like B\'zantium, she had her cathedral and her 
Golden Gate. The Grand Prince also founded the monastery 
of Saint Irene, of which only a few ruins now remain, and those 
of Saint George and the Catacombs, the latter made illustrious 
by the virtues of its first superiors. Saint Theodosius and Saint 
Antony. He repaired the church of the Dime, and surrounded 
the city with ramparts. The population began to increase, and 
the lower town to grow at the feet of the upper. Kief, situated 
on the Dnieper, the great road to Byzantium, seemed to be part 
of Greece. Adam of Bremen calls her ostnula sceptri Constatitino- 
politivii et c/arissitnum deciis Gfcecice, She was the rendezvous 
of the merchants from Holland, Hungary, Germany, and Scandi- 
navia, who lived in separate quarters of the town. She had 
eight markets, and the Dnieper was constantly covered with 
merchant- ships. laroslaf had not enough Greek artists to dec- 
orate all the churches, nor enough priests to serve them, for 
Kief was at that time " the city of 400 churches," so much ad- 
mired by the writers of the West. What she was then we mav 
partly realize by seeing what she is still at certain seasons of 
the year. The Monastery of the Catacombs, with the incor- 
ruptible bodies of its ascetics and thaumaturges, some of whom 
bricked themselves up while living, in the cell which was to be 
their sepulchre, draws annually, and especially at the Assump- 
tion, 50,000 pilgrims. Saint Sophia was the pride of Kief ; the 
mosaics of the time of laroslaf still exist, and the traveller may 
admire on the " indestructible wall " the colossal image of the 
Mother of God, the Last Supper, with a double apparition of 
Christ, presenting to six of His disciples His body, and to six 
others His blood, the images of Saints and Doctors, the Angel 
of the Annunciation of the Virgin. The frescoes which have 
been preserved or carefully restored are still numerous, and 
everywhere cover the pillars, the walls, and the vaults floored 
with gold. The inscriptions are not in Slavonic, but in Greek, 
laroslaf did not forget Novgorod, his first residence, and there 
he built another Saint Sophia, one of the most precious monu- 
ments of the Russian past. Like Charles the Great, he set up 
schools. Vladimir had founded one at Kief ; laroslaf instituted 
that of Novgorod for 300 boys. He sent for Greek singers from 
Byzantium, who taught the Russian clergy. Coins were struck 


for him by Greek artists, with his Slavonic name in Slav on one 
side, and his Christian name, loury (George), on the other. 
Like all other barbarian neophytes, laroslaf pushed devotion 
into superstition. He caused the bones of his uncles, who had 
died unconverted, to be disinterred and baptized. He died in 
1054, and his stone sarcophagus is one of the most precious 
ornaments of Saint Sophia. 


Varangian-Russian society presents more than one analogy 
with the society which was developed in Gaul after the Frank 
conquest. The government of the Varangian princes some- 
what resembled that of the Merovingian kings. 

The germ of the future State lay in the droujina, the band 
of warriors surrounding the prince, as in Gaul it lay in the 
truste. The droiijitiniki, like the antrustions, were the faithful 
followers, the men of the prince. They formed his guard, and 
were his natural council in all affairs, public or private. He 
could constitute them a court of justice, nominate them individ- 
ually vo'ievodes or governors of fortresses, or possadniks or 
lieutenants in the large towns. In the same way as the body 
surrounding the Merovingian kings was not composed so entirely 
of Franks, but that shortly Gallo-Romans crept into the antnis- 
tions, so the droujina of the Russian princes admitted many 
different elements, not only Varangian but Slav. Mstislaf, 
prince of Tmoutorakan, had enrolled lasses and Kassogans ; a 
Lithuanian latiague is mentioned as being in the droujina of 
Igor, a Hungarian in that of Boris. The military class did not 
form at that time a caste apart in Russia any more than in Gaul ; 
Saint Vladimir took into his service the son of a leather-worker 
who had vanquished the Patzinak giant ; his maternal uncle 
Dobryna was not even a free man. 

The prince in the middle of his droujina seems to be only 
the first among his equals ; all that he had seems to belong to 
his men. We see them eat at the same table, and listen to- 
gether to the songs of the blind poets who accompanied them- 
selves on the gouzzla. It was as it were a family of soldiers, 
from which one day the Russian administration was to come. 
The prince had great respect for the demands of his men. Those 
of Vladimir complained one day that they had to eat from 
wooden bowls. He gave them silver ones, and added, " I could 
not buy myself a droujina with gold and silver ; but with a drou- 
Una I can acquire gold and silver, as did my father and my 
grandfather." The prince did nothing without cwisulting his 


droujinnUd. It was this that prevented Sv'iatoslaf from listening 
to the exhortations of Olga ; he said that " his droujina would 
mock him " if he became a Christian. 

The administration of the Varangian princes was very elemen- 
tary. Let us see what the Arab writer Ibn-Dost says of the way 
they distributed justice : " When a Russian has a grievance 
with another, he summons him before the tribunal of the prince, 
where both present themselves. When the prince has given 
sentence, his orders are executed ; if both parties are displeased 
by the judgment, the affair must be decided by arms. He 
whose sword cuts sharpest gains his cause. At the moment of 
the combat the relations of the two adversaries appear armed, 
and surround the space shut off. The combatants then come 
to blows, and the victor may impose any conditions he pleases." 

After justice, the most important of the princely functions 
was the collection of the tributes. The amount was fixed by the 
prince himself. Oleg imposed on the Drevlians a tax of a 
marten's skin for every house. The raising of taxes was always 
very arbitrary. Nestor's account of the death of Igor is a lively 
picture of the political customs of the time ; we might imagine 
ourselves reading a page of Gregory of Tours about the sons of 
Clovis, for example the expedition of Thierry in Arvernia. " In 
the year 945 the droujina of Igor said to him, ' The men of 
Sveneld are richly provided with weapons and garments, while 
we go naked ; lead us, prince, to collect the tribute, so that thou 
and we may become rich.' Igor consented, and conducted them 
to the Drevlians to raise the tribute. He increased the first 
imposts, and did them violence, he and his men ; after having 
taken all he wanted, he returned to his city. While on the road 
he bethought himself and said to his droujina. ' Go on with the 
tribute ; I will go back to try and get some more out of them.' 
Leaving the greater part of his men to go on their way, he re- 
turned with only a few, to the end that he might increase his 
riches. The Drevlians, when they learnt that Igor was re- 
turning, held council with Mai their prince. ' When the wolf 
enters the sheepfold he slays the whole flock, if the shepherd 
does not slay him. Thus it is with us and Igor ; if we do not 
destroy him, we are lost.' Then they sent deputies and said to 
him, ' Why dost thou come anew unto us ? Hast thou not col- 
lected all the tribute ?' But Igor would not hear them, so the 
Drevlians came out of the town of Korosthenes, and slew Igor 
and his men, for they were but a few." 

For the government and defence of the country the prince 
established the chief of his droujinniki in different towns, sup- 
ported by adequate forces. Thus Rurik distributed the towns 
©f his appanage ; he gave to one of his men Polotsk, to another 


Rostof, to SI third Bielozersk, A principality was in some sort 
divided into tiefs, but tlie fiefs were only temporary, and always 
revokable. For the defence of the frontiers new towns were 
built, where native soldiers kept watch. 

Social conditions from the Qlh to the 12th century were as 
unequal as in the West. The droujiiia of the prince, which 
speedily absorbed all the Slav and Finn chiefs, constituted an 
aristocracy. Still we must distinguish in it those who were only 
simple guards or gridi {girdin among the Scandinavians), the 
niouges or men {I'ir in Latin, ba^-on in French), and the boyards 
who were the most illustrious of all. The freemen of the Rus- 
sian soil were " the people " or Imidi. The gosti or merchants 
were not at this period a class apart ; it was in fact the warriors 
or the princes who pursued commerce with arms in their hands. 
Oleg was disguised as a merchant when he surprised Kief and 
slew Askold and Dir; the Byzantines mistrusted these terrible 
guests, and assigned them a separate quarter, closely watched, 
of Constantinople. 

The rural population, on whom the weight of the growing 
State was beginning to rest, was already less free than in primi- 
tive times. The peasant was called jw^/v/c (perhaps derived from 
smerdict, to stink j, or tnougik, insulting diminutive oi tiwuge, man. 
Later he became the Christian par excellence, krestiajiine. 

Below the peasant, whose situation recalls that of the Roman 
colonus^ were the slaves properly so called, rabi or kholopy. The 
slave might have been taken in war, bought in a market, born in 
the house of his master, or have lost his liberty by the mere fact 
of fulfilling certain offices, such as that of house-steward. War 
was, however, the principal source of slavery. Ibn-Dost relates 
that the Russians, when they marched against another people, 
did not depart without having destroyed everything ; they carried 
off the women, and reduced the men to slavery. They main- 
tained a great slave-trade with foreign nations. " From Russia," 
said Sviatoslaf, the conqueror of Bulgaria, "will be brought 
skins, wax, honey, and slaves" 



Russia had become Christian : it is the chief event in her 
primitive history. An important fact is that her Christianity 
was received not from Rome, like that of the Poles and other 
Western Slavs, but from Constantinople. Although the separa- 
tion between the Churches of the East and West was not yet 
fully consummated, it was evident that Russia would be engaged 


in what the Latins called " the schism." It is usually considered 
in tlie West that this fact exercised an evil influence on Russia. 
Now let us see the opinion of a Russian historian, M. Bestoujet- 
Rioumine, on the subject. "What is no less important is that 
Christianity came to us from Byzantium, where the Church put 
forth no pretensions of governing the State, a circumstance which 
preserved us from struggles between the secular, a national, and 
the spiritual, a foreign power. Excluded from the religious 
unity of the Romano-Germanic world, we have perhaps gained 
more than we have lost. The Roman Church made her ap' 
pearance with German missionaries in Slavonic lands ; and if she 
did not everywhere bring with her material servitude, she at least 
introduced an intellectual slavery by forcing men to support for- 
eign interests, by bringing among them foreign elements, and by 
establishing in all parts a sharp division between the higher 
classes who wrote and spoke in Latin, and the lower classes 
who spoke the national tongue and were without literature." 

No doubt an ecclesiastical language which, thanks to Cyril 
and Methodius, mingled with the national language, and became 
intelligible to all classes of society ; a purely national Church, 
which was subject to no foreign sway ; the absolute independence 
of the civil power and of national development, were the ines- 
timable advantages that Byzantine Christianity brought into 
Russia. But if the Russian State was free from all obligations 
to Rome, she had nothing to hope for from her. She could not 
reckon in her days of peril on the help that Spain received when 
she grappled with the Moors ; Germany in her crusades against 
the Slavs and Finns ; Hungary in her national war with the 
Turks. Separated from the West by difference of faith, Russia 
in the time of the Mongols, like Greece at the epoch of the Ot- 
toman invasion, saw no Europe arming in her defence. 

Her princes were neither laid under the pontifical interdicts, 
like Robert of France, nor reduced to implore pardon at the feet 
of a Gregory VH., like Henry IV. of Germany ; humiliations 
always followed by a swift revenge, as on the day when Bar- 
barossa expelled Alexander III. from Italy, and Philip the Hand- 
some caused Boniface to be arrested in Anagni. Humiliations 
still more cruel awaited the Russians at the court of the Mongols. 
Another misfortune attending the entrance of the Russians into 
the Greek Church is, that they found themselves separated by 
religion from the races to whom they were bound by a common 
origin, and who spoke almost their own tongue. It was the 
difference of religion which inflamed their long rivalry with the 
Poles, and which at present deprives them of much influence 
over part of the Slavs. This same difference of religion delayed 
for them the benefits of civilization resulting from the Renais- 



sance of the West, but it sjDared them the terrible crisis of the 
wars of the Reformation. 

Oriental Christianity, with the Byzantine civilization that was 
inseparable from it, produced in time a considerable transform- 
ation in Russia. The first effect of Christianity was to reform 
society, and draw closer family ties. It condemned polygamy, 
and forbade equal divisions between the children of a slave and 
those of the lawful wife. Society resisted this new principle for 
some time. Saint Vladimir, even after his conversion, divided 
his possessions equally among the children the Church regarded 
as natural and those she considered legitimate. In the long 
run Christianity prevailed, and by the abolition of polygamy the 
Russian family ceased to be Asiatic, and became European. 

Christianity prescribed new virtues, and gave the ancient 
barbaric virtues of hospitality and benevolence a more elevated 

Yladimir Monomachus charged his children to receive stran- 
gers hospitably, because, says he, they have it in their power to 
give you a good or evil reputation. The hospitality of primitive 
peoples may often be explained by their need of merchants and 
foreigners. Pagan Slavs 'were only obliged to help those of the 
same association ; warriors, the members of the same droiijina ; 
peasants, those of the same commu?ie ; merchants or artisans, 
those of the same arte/. Christianity enjoined benevolence to 
all the world, without hope of reward in this life. It rendered 
honorable, weakness, poverty, manual labor. If it prescribed 
excessive humility, it was useful at least as a reaction against the 
brutality of overweening pride. Between these two societies, 
aristocratic and religious, which rest on opposite and equally 
exaggerated principles, there would one day be room for lay and 
civil society. 

The influence of Christian principles was rather slow among 
these excitable aiid ardent natures, but at last we see in Russia, 
as in the West, princes abjure their pride and seek the peace of 
the cloister, like the good King Robert, or Saint Henry. In the 
end it became an established custom with the Russian sovereigns 
that, on the approach of death, they should be tonsured, change 
their worldly for a monkish name, and so die in the garb of one 
of the religious orders. 

From a political point of view, the influence of Byzantine 
Christianity was bound in the long run to cause a complete 
revolution. For what was a Russian prince, after all, but the 
head of a band, surrounded by the men of his droujina, and in a 
sense a foreigner to the land he governed and on which he levied 
tribute 1 Properly speaking, a Russian prince had no subjects. 

^ o ff^S TOR Y OF R USSIA. 

The natives might always expel him — his droujinniki were 
always free to forsake him. 

The princes of Kief were no more sovereigns in the modern 
or Roman sense of the term, than Merwig or Clodowig the long- 
haired. But the priests who came from Constantinople brought 
with them an ideal of government ; in a little while it was that 
of the Russians who entered the ranks of the clergy. This 
Greek ideal was the Emperor, the Tzar of Constantinople, heir 
of Augustus and Constantine the Great, Vicar of God upon earth, 
the typical monarch on whom the eyes of the barbarians of Gaul 
as well as those of Scythia were fixed. He was a sovereign in 
the fullest sense of the word, as, by a legal fiction, the people by 
the Lex Regia was supposed to have yielded its power to the 
vnperator. He had subjects, and subjects only. Alone he made 
the law ; he was the law. He had neither droujimiiki nor an- 
irustions that he placed in such and such a town, but an host of 
movable functionaries, the inviolate Roman hierarchy, by means 
of whom his all-powerful will penetrated to the remotest parts of 
his dominions. He was not the leader of a band of exacting 
soldiers, free to quit his service for that of another, but master 
of a standing army, to guard both frontiers and capital. He did 
not consider his states as a patrimony to be divided between his 
children, but transmitted to his successor the Roman Empire in 
its integrity. He inherited his power, not only from his people, 
but from God. His imperial ornaments had, like his person, a 
sacred character : and whenever the barbarian kings demanded 
one of them at Constantmople, whether it was a crown enriched 
with precious stones, the purple mantle, the sceptre or the brode- 
quins (leggings), they were answered, that when God gave the 
Empire to Constantinople, He sent these vestments by a holy 
angel ; that they were not the work of man, and that they were 
laid on the altar, and only worn, even by the Emperor, on 
solemn occasions. Leo the Khazar was said to have been smit- 
ten with a fatal ulcer for having put on the crown without per- 
mission of the patriarch. 

An empire one and indivisible, resting on a standing army, 
a hierarchy of functionaries, a national clergy, and a body of jur- 
isconsults, — such was the Roman Empire, and such it revived in 
the monarchies of the 17th century. This was the conception of 
the State, unknown to both Slavs and Varangians, that the Greek 
priests brought to Russia. For a long while the reality answered 
little to the ideal ; the princes continued in their wills to divide 
their soldiers and their lands among their children ; but the idea 
did not perish, and if it was never realized in Kievian Russia, it 
found a more propitious soil in Muscovite Russia. Legislation 
likewise felt the influence of Christianity. Theft, murder, and 


assassination were not looked upon by the Church as private 
offences for which the aggrieved persons could talce reprisals or 
accept a wergeld. They were crimes to be punished by human 
justice in the name of God. 

For private revenge Byzantine influence substituted a public 
penalty ; for the fine it substituted corporal punishment, repug- 
nant to the free barbarian, and to the instinctive sentiment of 
human dignity. Imprisonment, convict labor, flogging, torture, 
mutilation, death itself, inflicted by more or less cruel means ; 
such was the penal code of the Byzantines. 

The Greek bishops of the time of St. Vladimir had wished 
that brigands should be put to death, but the custom was, and 
long remained, against it. Vladimir, after having employed this 
supreme means of repression, returned to the system of the wer- 
geld, which besides helped to fill the treasury. The Byzantine 
mode of procedure likewise rejected the judicial duel, the judg- 
ment of God and the compurgatorcs long defended by habit. But, 
as in Gaul Roman law existed for Church officers and part of the 
natives, side by side with the Frank or Burgundian law, so in 
Russia the Byzantine codes of Justinian and Basil the Macedonian, 
were established at the side of the Scandinavian code of laroslaf. 

During many centuries the two systems of legislation existed 
together, each being slightly influenced by the other, to the 
time when they were mingled in a new code, the Oulojenie of 
Ivan the Great, and the Soudebnik of Ivan the Terrible. 

The Byzantine literature which found its way into Russia 
consisted not only of the sacred books, but also of the Fathers 
of the Church, among whom we may reckon some writers of 
the first order, like Saint Basil and Saint John Chrysostom ; 
lives of the saints, the inexhaustible source of new poetry ; 
chronicles destined to serve as models to the Russian annalists ; 
philosophical and scientific books ; even romances such as 
' Barlaam and Josaphat,' ' Salomon and Kitovras,' &c. Though 
this literature was partly the fruit of Byzantine decay, we may 
perceive how it implanted fresh ideas in the mind of a young 
nation, and would largely influence the moral life of the individ 
ual, and public and family life. We shall see up to what point 
Russian society of the Middle Ages was modelled on the exam- 
ples afforded by this literature. Finally, it must not be forgotten 
that Christianity brought music in its train to a people whose 
music was highly primitive, and architecture to a people who had 
absolutely none. It was she who, to use a Western expression, 
illuminated the Russian cities with magnificent churches, and her 
golden cupolas towered above the ramparts of mud that begirt 
the cities. 




OF KIEF, IO54-I169. 

Distribution of Russia into principalities — Unity in division — Tiie successors 
of laroslaf the Great — Wars about the right of headship of the royal 
family, and the throne of Kief — Vladimir Monomachus — Wars between 
the heirs of Vladimir Monomachus — Fall of Kief. 



The period that extends from 1054, the year of laroslaf's 
death, to 1224, the year of the first appearance of the Tatars, 
or to take the French chronology, from the reign of Henry I. 
to the death of PhiUp Augustus, is one of the most confused and 
troubled in Russian history. As the barbarian custom of divi- 
sion continued to prevail over the Byzantine ideas of political 
unity, the national territory was ceaselessly partitioned. 

The princely anarchy of Eastern Europe has its parallel in 
the feudal anarchy of the West. M. Pogodine reckons during 
this period, sixty-four principalities which had an existence more 
or less prolonged, 293 princes who disputed the throne of Kief 
and other domains, and eighty-three civil wars, in some of which 
the whole country was engaged. There were besides foreign 
wars to augment this immense heap of historical facts. Against 
^he Polovtsi alone the chroniclers mention eighteen campaigns, 
while these barbarians made no less than forty-six invasions of 
Russia. It is impossible to follow the national chroniclers in 
the minute details of their annals ; we will only treat of the 
principalities which lasted some time, and the facts which were 
the most important. 

The ancient names of the Slav tribes have everywhere dis- 
appeared, or only remain in the names of some of the towns, 
for example that of the Polotchanes in Polotsk, and that of the 
Severians in Novgorod Severski. The elements of which Russia 
was now composed were no longer tribes, but principalities. 
We hear no more of the Krivitches or the Drevlians, but of the 


principalities of Smolensk and Volhynia. These little States 
were perpetually dismembered at each new partition between 
the sons of a prince, and then were reconstituted to be divided 
anew into appanages. 

Notwithstanding all these vicissitudes, some of them main- 
tained a steady existence, corresponding to certain topographi- 
cal or ethnographical conditions. Without speaking of the dis- 
tant principality of Tmoutorakan, situated at the foot of the 
Caucasus in the centre of Turkish and Circassian tribes, and 
reckoning eight successive princes, the following are the great 
divisions of Russia from the nth to the 13th century: — 

1. The principality of Smolensk occupied the important ter- 
ritory which is, as it were, the central point in the mountain 
system of Russia. It comprehends the ancient forest of Okof, 
where three of the largest Russian rivers, the Volga, the Dnie- 
per, and the Dwina, take their rise. Hence the political import- 
ance of Smolensk, attested by all the wars to gain possession of 
her ; hence, also, her commercial prosperity. We must observe 
that all her towns were built on one or the other of these three 
great rivers ; all the commerce, therefore, of ancient Russia 
passed through her hands. Besides Smolensk, we must mention 
Mojaisk, Viasma, and Toropetz, which was the capital of a 
secondary principalit)', the property of two celebrated princes, 
Mstislaf the Brave {Khrabryi) and Mstislaf the Bold {Oudaloi). 

2. The principality of Kief was J^ouss, Russia in the strict 
sense of the word. Her situation on the Dnieper, the neighbor- 
hood of the Greek Empire, the fertility of the Black Zand, for 
long secured to this State the supremacy over the other Russian 
principalities. On the south she bordered directly on the 
nomads of the steppe, against whom her princes were forced to 
raise a barrier of frontier towns. They often took these bar- 
barians into their pay, granted them lands, and constituted them 
into military colonies. The principality of Per^iaslavl was a 
dependence of Kief ; Vychegorod, Bielgorod, Tripoli, Torchesk, 
were at times erected into principalities for princes of the same 

3. On the tributaries of the right bank of the Dnieper, 
notably the Soja, the Desna and the Se'ime, extended the two 
principalities of Tchernigof, with Starodoub and Loubetch ; and 
of Novgorod- Sez'erskt, with Poutivl, Koursk, and Brian sk. The 
principality of Tchernigof, which reached towards the Upper 01:a, 
had therefore one foot in the basin of the Volga ; her princes, 
the Olgovitches, were the most formidable rivals of Kief. The 
princes of Severski were always occupied with their ceaseless 
wars against the Polovtsi, their neighbors on the south. It was 
Vol. 1 Russia 4 



a prince of Severski whose exploits against these barbarians 
formed the subject of a sort of chattson de geste, the Song of Igor, 
or the Accoutit of the Expedition of Igor {Slovo o polkou Igorhne.^ 

4. Another principality, whose very existence consisted in 
endless war against the nomads, was the double principality of 
Riazan and Mourom. Her principal towns were Riazan, Mou- 
rom, Pereiaslavl-Riazanski, situated on the Oka, Kolomna at 
the junction of the Moskowa with the Oka, and the Pronsk on 
the Prona. The Upper Don formed its western boundary. 
This principality was placed in the very heart of the Mouromians 
and Mechtcheraks, Finnish tribes. The reputation of her in- 
habitants, who were reckoned warlike in character, and rough 
and brutal in manners, was no doubt partly the result of the 
mixture of the Russian race with the ancient inhabitants of the 
country, and of their perpetual and bloody struggle with the 
nomad tribes. 

5. The double principalities of Souzdal, with their towns of 
Souzdal, Rostof, lourief-Polski on the Kolocha, Vladimir on the 
Kliazma, laroslavl, and Perdiaslavl-Zaliesski, were situated on 
the Volga and the Oka amongst the thickest of northern forests, 
and in the middle of the Finnish tribes of Mouromians, Merians, 
Vesses, and Tcheremisses. Although placed at the furthest ex- 
tremity of the Russian world, Souzdal exercised an important 
influence over it. We shall find her princes now establishing 
a certain political authority over Novgorod and the Russia of 
the Lakes, the result of a double economic dependence ; now 
intervening victoriously in the quarrels of the Russia of the 
Dneiper. The Souzdalians were rough and warlike, like the 
Riazanese. Already we can distinguish among these two peo- 
ples the characteristics of a new nationality. That which divides 
them from the Kievians and the men of Novgorod-Severski, oc- 
cupied like themselves in the great war with the barbarians, is 
the fact that the Russians of the Dnieper sometimes mingled 
their blood with that of their enemies, and became fused with 
the nomad, essentially mobile Turkish races, whilst the Russians 
of the Oka and the Volga united with the Finnish tribes, agri- 
cultural and essentially sedentary. This distinction between the 
two foreign elements that entered the Slav blood, had doubtless 
contributed to the difference in the characters of the two 
branches of the Russian race. From the nth to the 13th cen- 
tury, in passing from the basin of the Dneiper to the basin of 
the Volga, we can already watch the formation of Great and 
Little Russia. 

6. The principalities of Kief, Tchernigof, Novgorod-Severski, 
Riazan, Mourom, and Souzdal, situated on the side of the 



steppe with its devastating hordes, formed the frontier States, 
the Marches of Russia. The same rble^ on the north-west oppo- 
site the Lithuanians, Letts, and Tchouds, fell to the principality 
of Polotsk, which occupied the basin of the Dwina ; and to the 
republican principalities of Novgorod and Pskof on the lakes 
Ilmen and Peipus. To the principality of Polotsk, that of 
Minsk was attached, which lay in the basin of the Dnieper. The 
possession of Minsk, thanks to its situation, was often disputed 
by the Grand Princes of Kief. To Novgorod belonged the 
towns of Torjok, Volok-Lamski, Izborsk, and Veliki-Louki, 
which were at times capitals of particular States. 

South-east Russia comprehended — i. Volhytiia in the fan- 
shaped distribution of rivers formed by the Pripet and its tribu- 
taries, with Vladimir-in-Volhynia, Loutsk, Tourof, Brest, and 
even Lublin, which is certainly Polish. 2. Gallicia proper, or 
Red Russia, in the basin of the San, the Dniester, and the 
Pripet, whose ancient inhabitants the White Croats seemed to 
have sprung from the stock of the Danubian Slavs. Her chief 
towns were Galitch, founded by Vladimirko about 1144, Peremysl, 
Terebovl, and Zvenigorod. The neighborhood of Hungary and 
Poland gave a special character to these principalities, as well 
as a more advanced civilization. The epic songs speak of Gal- 
licia, the native land of the hero Diouk Stepanovitch, as a 
fabulously-rich country. The Tale of the Expedition of Jgorgwes 
us a high idea of the power of these princes. " laroslaf Os- 
momysl of Gallicia! " cried the poet to one of them, " thou art 
seated very high on thy throne of wrought gold; with thy regi- 
ments of iron thou sustainest the Carpathians ; thou closest the 
gates of the Danube ; thou barrest the way to the king of Hun- 
gary ; thou openest at thy will the gates of Kief, and with 
thine arrows thou strikest from afar ! " 

The disposition of these fifteen or sixteen principalities con- 
firms all that we have said about the essential unity of the con- 
figuration of the Russian soil. Not one of the river-basins forms 
an isolated and closed region. There is no line of heights to 
establish barriers between them or political frontiers. The 
greater number of the Russian principalities belong to the 
basin of the Dneiper, but extend everywhere beyond its limits. 
The principality of Kief, with Perdiaslavl, is nearly the only one 
completely confined within it ; but Volhynia puts the basin of 
the Dnieper in communication with those of the Bug and the 
Vistula, Polotsk with the basins of the Dnieper and the Dwina, 
Novgorod-Severski with the basin of the Don, Tchernigof and 
Smolensk with the basin of the Volga. Water-courses every, 
where established communications between the principalities. 


Already Russia, though broken up into appanages, had the 
germs of a great united empire. The slight cohesion of nearly 
all the States, and their frequent dismemberments, prevented 
them from ever becoming the homes of real nationalities. The 
principalities of Smolensk, Tchernigof, and Riazan have never 
possessed as definite an historic existence as the duchy of Bre- 
tagne or the county of Toulouse in France, or the duchies of 
Saxony, Suabia, and Bavaria in Germany. 

The interests of the princes, their desire to create appanages 
for each of their children, caused a fresh division of the Russian 
territory at the death of every sovereign. There was, howeverj 
a certain cohesion in the midst of all these vicissitudes. There 
was a unity of race and language, the more sensible, notwith- 
standing all dialectic differences, because the Russian people 
was surrounded everywhere, except at the south-west, by entirely 
strange races, Lithuanians, Tchouds, Finns, Turks, Magyars. 
There was a unity of religion ; the Russians differed from 
nearly all their neighbors, fo^r in contrast with the Western 
Slavs, Poles, Tcheques, and Moravians, they represented a 
particular form of Christianity, not owning any tie to Rome, and 
rejecting Latin as the language of the Church. There was the 
unity of historical development, as up to that time the Russo- 
Slavs had all followed the same road, had accepted Greek civili- 
zation, submitted to the Varangians, pursued certain great en- 
terprises in common — such as the expeditions against Byzantium 
and the war with the nomads. Finally, there was political unity, 
since after all in Gallicia as in Novgorod, on the Dnieper as in 
the forests of Souzdal, it was the same family that filled all the 
thrones. All these princes descended from Rurik, Saint Vladi- 
mir, and laroslaf the Great. The fact that the wars that laid 
waste the country were civil wars, was a new proof of this unity. 
The different parts of Russia could not consider themselves 
strangers one to the other, when they saw the princes of Tcher- 
nigof and Souzdal taking up arms to prove which of them was 
the eldest, and which consequently had most right to the title 
of Grand Prince and the throne of Kief. There were descend- 
ants of Rurik who governed successively the remotest States of 
Russia, and who, after having reigned at Tmoutorakan on the 
Straits of lenikale, at Novgorod the Great, at Toropetz in the 
country of Smolensk, ended by establishing their right to reign at 
Kief. In spite of the division into appanages, Kief continued to 
be the centre of Russia. It was there that Oleg and Igor had 
reigned, that Vladimir had baptized his people, and Iarosla» 
had established the metropolis of the faith, of arts, and of na- 
tional civilization. It is not surprising that she should have 


been more fiercely disputed than all the other Russian cities. 
Russia had vadi-n^ princes ; but she had only one Grand Frinct 
( Veliki-kniaz) — the one who reigned at Kief. He had a rec- 
ognized supremacy over the others which he owed not only to 
the importance of his capital, but to his position as eldest of the 
royal family. Kief, the mother of Russian cities, was always to 
belong to the eldest of the descendants of Rurik ; this was the 
consequence of the patriarchal system of the Slavs, as was the 
custom of division. When the Grand Prince of Kief died, his 
son was not his rightful heir ; but his uncle or brother, or which 
ever of the princes was the eldest. Then the whole of Russia, 
from the Bahic to the Black Sea, held itself in readiness to sup- 
port the claims of this or that candidate. It was the same with 
the oth«r principalities, where the possessors of different ap- 
panages aspired to reign in the metropolis of the region. The 
civil wars, then, themselves strengthened the sentiments of 
Russian unity. What were they, after all, but family quarrels ? 



The persistent conflict between the Byzantine law, by which 
the son inherited the possessions of the father, and the old na- 
tional law of the Slavs which caused them to pass to the eldest 
of all the family, was an inexhaustible source of civil wars. 
Even had the law been perfectly clear, the princes were not 
always disposed to recognize it. Thus, although the eldest of 
laroslaf's sons had in his favor the formal will of his father, giv- 
ing him the throne of Kief, and though laroslaf on his deathbed 
had desired his other sons to respect their elder brother as they 
had done their parent, and look on him as their father, Isiaslaf 
at once found his brother Sviatoslaf ready to take up arms and 
overturn his throne (1073). He was obliged to seek refuge at 
the Court of Henry IV. of Germany, who sent an embassy to 
Kief, commanding Sviatoslaf to restore the throne of Isiaslaf. 
Sviatoslaf received the German envoys with such courtesy, made 
them such a display of his treasures and riches, that, dazzled by 
the gold, they adopted a pacific policy. Henry IV. himself, 
disarmed by the liberalities of the Russian prince, spoke no 
more of chastising the usurper. Isiaslaf did not return to Kiel 
till after the death of his rival (1076). 

When his own death took place (1078), his son SviatopoHc 
did not succeed him immediately. It was necessary that all the 


heirs of laroslof should be exhausted Vsevolod, a brother of 
Isiaslaf, whose daughter married the Emperor Henry IV., or 
Henry V. — it is not quite certain which — reigned for fifteen 
years (1078-1093). In accordance with the same principle, it 
was not the son of Vsevolod, Vladimir Monomachus, who suc- 
ceeded his father ; but after the crown had been worn by a new 
generation of princes, it returned to the blood of Isiaslaf. Vladt 
mir Monomachus made no opposition to the claims of Sviatopolk 
Isiaslavitch. " His father was older than mine," he said, " and 
reigned tirst in Kief," so he quitted the principality which he 
had governed with his father, and valiantly defended against 
the barbarians. But everyone was not so respectful to the na- 
tional law as Vladimir Monomachus. 

Two terrible civil wars desolated Russia in the reign of the 
Grand Prince Sviatopolk (1093-1113): one about the princi- 
pality of Tchernigof, the other about Volhynia and Red Russia. 
Sviatoslaf had enjoyed Tchernigof as his share, to which 
Tmoutoraken in the Taurid, Mourom and Riazan in the Finn 
countr}^, were annexed. Isiaslaf and Vsevolod, Grand Princes 
of Kief, had despoiled the sons of Sviatoslaf, their brother, de- 
priving them of the rich territory of Tchernigof, and only leaving 
them Tmoutorakan and the Finnish country. Even Vladimir 
Monomachus, whom we have seen so disinterested, had accepted 
a share of the spoil. The injured princes were not people to 
bear this meekly, especially the eldest, Oleg Sviatoslavitch, one 
of the most energetic men of the nth century. He called the 
terrible Polovtsi to his aid, and subjected Russia to frightful 
ravages. Vladimir Monomachus was moved by these misfor- 
tunes ; he wrote a touching letter to Oleg, expressing his sorrow 
for having accepted Tchernigof. At his instigation a Congress 
of Princes met at Loubetch, on the Dnieper (1097). Seated on 
the same carpet, they resolved to put an end to the civil wars 
that handed the country as a prey to the barbarians. Oleg re- 
covered Tchernigof, and promised to unite with the Grand 
Prince of Kief and Vladimir Monomachus against the Polovtsi. 
The treaty was ratified by the oath of each prince, who kissed 
the cross and swore, " That henceforth the Russian land shall 
be considered as the country of us all ; and whoso shall dare 
to arm himself against his brother becomes our common 

In Volhynia, the prince, David, was at war with his nephews, 
Vassilko and Volodar. The Congress of Loubetch had divided 
the disputed territories between them, but scarcely was the treaty 
ratified when David went to the Grand Prince Sviatopolk and 
persuaded him that Vassilko had a design on his life. With the 


light faith habitual to the men of that date, the Grand Prince 
joined David in framing a plot to attract Vassilko to Kief on the 
occasion of a religious fete. When he arrived he was loaded 
with chains, and the Grand Prince convoked the boyards and 
citizens of Kief, to denounce to them the pretended projects of 
Vassilko. " Prince," replied the boyards, much embarrassed, 
" thy tranquillity is dear to us, Vassilko merits death, if it is 
true that he is thine enemy ; but if he is calumniated by David, 
God will avenge on David the blood of the innocent." Thereon 
the Grand Prince delivered Vassilko to his enemy David, who 
put out his eyes. The other descendants of laroslaf I. were in- 
dignant at this crime. Vladimir Monomachus united with Oleg 
of Tchernigof, his ancient enemy, and marched against Sviato 
polk. The people and clergy of Kief succeeded in preventing a 
civil war between the Grand Prince and the confederates of Lou- 
betch. Sviatopolk was forced to disavow David, and swear to 
join the avengers of Vassilko. David defended himself with 
vigor, and summoned to his help, first the Poles, and then the 
Hungarians. At last a new congress was assembled at Viti- 
tchevo (iioo), on the left bank of the Dnieper, a town of which 
a deserted gorodichtcM is all that now remains. As a punish- 
ment for his crime, David was deprived of his principality of 
Vladimir in Volhynia, and had to content himself with four small 
towns. After the new settlement of this affair, Monomachus 
led the other princes against the Polovtsi, and inflicted on them 
a bloody defeat ; seventeen of their khans remained on the field 
of battle. One khan who was made prisoner offered a ransom 
to Monomachus ; but the prince showed how deeply he felt the 
injuries of the Christians — he refused the gold, and cut the 
brigand chief in pieces. 

When Sviatopolk died, the Kievians unanimously declared 
they would have no Grand Prince but Vladimir Monomachus. 
Vladimir declined the honor, alleging the claims of Oleg and 
his brothers to the throne of Kief. During these negotiations, 
a sedition broke out in the city, and the Jews, whom Sviatopolk 
had made the instruments of his fiscal exactions, were pillaged. 
Monomachus was forced to yield to the prayers of the citizens. 
During his reign (i 1 13-1 125) he obtained great successes against 
the Polovtsi, the Patzinaks, the Torques, the Tcherkesses, and 
oiher nomads. He gave an asylum to the remains of the Kha- 
zars, who built on the Oster, not far from Tchernigof, the town 
of Belovega. The ruins of this city that remain to-day prove 
that this Finnish people, eminently perfectible, and already civ- 
ilized by the Greeks, were further advanced in the arts of con- 
struction and fortification than even the Russians themselves. 


According to one tradition, Monomachus also made war on the 
Emperor Alexis Comnenus, a Russian army invaded Thrace, and 
the Bishop of Ephesus is said to have brought gifts to Kief, 
among others a cup of cornelian that had belonged to Augustus, 
besides a crown and a throne, still preserved in the Museum at 
Moscow under the name of the crown and throne of Monoma- 
chus. It is at present ascertained that they never belonged to 
Vladimir, but it was the policy of his descendants, the Tzars of 
Moscow, to propagate this legend. It was of consequence to 
them to prove that these ensigns of their power were traceable 
to their Kievian ancestor, and that the Russian Monomachus, 
grandson of the Greek Monomachus, had been solemnly crowned 
by the Bishop of Ephesus as sovereign of Russia. 

The Grand Prince made his authority felt in other parts of 
Russia. A Prince of Minsk who had the temerity to kindle a 
civil war, was promptly dethroned, and died in captivity at Kief. 
The Novgorodians saw many of their boyards kept as hostages, 
or exiled. The Prince of Vladimir in Volhynia was deposed, 
and his states given to a son of the Grand Prince. 

Monomachus has left us a curious paper of instructions that 
he compiled for his sons, and in which he gives them much good 
advice, enforced by examples drawn from his own life. " It is 
neither fasting, nor solitude, nor the monastic life, that will pro- 
cure you the life eternal — it is well-doing. Do not forget the 
poor, but nourish them. Do not bury your riches in the bosom 
of the earth, for that is contrary to the precepts of Christianity.* 
Be a father to orphans, judge the cause of widows yourself. . . . 
Put to death no one, be he innocent or guilty, for nothing is more 

sacred than the soul of a Christian Love your wives, 

but beware lest they get the power over you. When you have 
learnt anything useful, try to preserve it in your memory and 
strive ceaselessly to get knowledge. Without ever leaving his 
palace, my father spoke five languages, a thing that foreigners 
admire in us. . . I have made altogether twenty-three campaigns 
without counting those of minor importance. I have concluded 
nineteen treaties of peace with the Polovtsi, taken at least loo 
of their princes prisoners, and afterwards restored them to liberty ; 
besides more than 200 whom I threw into the rivers. No one 
has travelled more rapidly than I. If I left Tchernigof very 
early in the morning, I arrived at Kief before vespers. Some 

*To bury riches in the earth is the custom with which the Emperor Mau-r 
rice reproaches the Slavs of his time, and which is to this day characteristic 
of the Russian peasants. Often the head of the family dies, without having 
revealed the hiding-place to his children. Treasure trove is frequent in 


times in the middle of the thickest forests, I caught wild horses 
myself, and bound them together with my own hands. How 
many times I have been thrown from the saddle by buffaloes, 
struck by the horns of the deer, trampled under foot by the 
elands ! A furious boar once tore my sword from my belt ; my 
saddle was rent by a bear, which threw my horse down under 
me ! How many falls I had from my horse in my youth, when, 
heedless of danger, I broke my head, I wounded my arms and 
legs ! But the Lord watched over me ! " 

Vladimir completed the establishment of the Slav race in 
Souzdal, and founded a city on the Kliazma that bore his name, 
and that was destined to play a great part. Such, in the begin- 
ning of the 1 2th century, when Louis VL was fighting with his 
barons of the Isle de France, was the ideal of a Grand Prince 
of Russia. 



Of the sons of Vladimir Monomachus, George Dolgorouki 
became the father of the Princes of Souzdal and Moscow, and 
Msiislaf the father of the Princes of Galitch and Kief. These 
two branches were often at enmity, and it was their rivalry that 
struck the final blow at the prosperity of Kief. When Isiaslaf, 
son of Mstislaf (1146-1154), was called to the throne by the 
inhabitants of the capital, his uncle, George Dolgorouki, put 
forward his rights as the eldest of the family. Kief, which had 
been already many times taken and re-taken in the strife between 
the Olgovitches (descendants of Oleg of Tchernigof) and the 
Monomachivitches (descendants of Vladimir Monomachus), was 
fated to be disputed anew between the uncle and the nephew. 
It was almost a war between the Old and New Russia, the 
Russia of the Dnieper and that of the Volga. The Princes of 
Souzdal, who dwelt afar in the forests in the north-west, establish- 
ing their rule over the remnants of the Finnish races, were to 
become greater and greater strangers to Kievian Russia. If 
they still coveted the " mother of Russian cities," because the 
title of Grand Prince was attached to it, they at least began to 
obey and to venerate it less than the other princes. 

George Dolgorouki found an ally against Isiaslaf in one of 
the Olgovitches, Sviatoslaf, who thirsted to avenge his brother 
Igor, dethroned and kept prisoner in Kief by the Grand Prince. 
The Kievians hesitated to support the sovereign they had chosen ; 
they hated the Olgovitches, but in their attachment to the blood 


of Monomachus, they respected his son and his grandson equally, 
"We are ready," they said to Isiaslaf, "we and our children, to 
make war on the sons of Oleg. But George is your uncle, and 
can we dare to raise our hands against the son of Monomachus ? " 
After the war had lasted some time, a decisive dattle was fought. 
At the battle of Perdiaslavl, Isiaslaf was completely defeated, 
and took refuge, with two attendants, in Kief. The inhabitants, 
who had lost many citizens in this war, declared they were un- 
able to stand a siege. The Grand Prince then abandoned his 
capital to George Dolgorouki and retired to Vladimir in Volhynia, 
whence he demanded help from his brother-in-law, the King of 
Hungary, and the kings of Poland and Bohemia. With these 
reinforcements he surprised Kief, and nearly made his uncle 
prisoner. Understanding that the national law was against him, 
he opposed eldest tvith eldest and declared himself the partisan 
of another son of Monomachus, the old Viatcheslaf, Prince of 
Tourof. He was proclaimed Grand Prince of Kief (ii 50-1 154), 
adopted his nephew Isiaslaf as his heir, and gave splendid fetes 
to the Russians and Hungarians. George returned to the charge, 
and was beaten under the walls of Kief. Each of these princes 
had taken barbarians into his pay : George, the Polovtsi ; Isiaslaf 
the Black Caps, that is the Torques, the Patzinaks, and the 

The obstinate Prince of Souzdal did not allow himself to be 
discouraged by this check. The old Viatcheslaf, who only desired 
peace and quiet, in vain addressed him letters, setting forth his 
rights as elder. " I had already a beard when you entered the 
world," he said. George proved himself intractable, and went 
into Gallicia to effect a junction with his ally, Vladimirko, Prince 
of Galitch. This Vladimirko had violated the oath he had taken 
and confirmed by kissing the cross. When they reproached him, 
he said, with a sneer, " It was such a little cross." To prevent 
this dangerous co-operation, Isiaslaf, without waiting the expected 
arrival of the Hungarians, began the pursuit of George, and 
came up with him on the borders of the Rout, a small tributary 
of the Dnieper. A bloody battle was fought, where he himself 
was wounded and thrown from his horse, but the Souzdalians 
and their allies the Polovtsi were completely defeated (1151). 
Isiaslaf survived this victory only three years. After his death 
and that of Viatcheslaf, Kief passed from hand to hand. George 
ended by reaching the supreme object of his desires. He made 
his entry into the capital in 1155, and had the consolation of 
dying Grand Prince of Kief at the moment that a league was 
being formed for his expulsion (1157). " I thank Thee, great 
Crod," cried one of the confederates on learning the news, " for 


having spared us, by the sudden death of our enemy, the obliga- 
tion of shedding his blood ! " 

The confederates entered the town ; one of them assumed 
the title of Grand Prince, the others divided his territories. 
Henceforth there existed no Grand Principality, properly speak- 
ing, and with the growing power of Souzdal, Kief ceased to be 
the capital of Russia. A final disaster was still reserved for her. 

In 1 169, Andrew Bogolioubski, son of George Dolgorouki 
and Prince of Souzdal, being disaffected to Mstislaf, Prince of 
Kief, formed against him a coalition of eleven princes. He con- 
fided to his son Mstislaf and his voievode Boris an immense 
army of Rostovians, Vladimiris, and Souzdalians to march 
against Kief. This time the Russia of the forests triumphed 
over Russia of the steppes, and after a three days' siege Kief 
was taken by assault. "This mother of Russian cities," says 
Karamsin, " had been many times besieged and oppressed. 
She had often opened her Golden Gate to her enemies, but none 
had ever yet entered by force. To their eternal shame, the 
victors forgot that they too were Russians ! During three 
days not only the houses, but the monasteries, churches, and 
even the temples of Saint Sophia and the Dime, were given over 
to pillage. The precious images, the sacerdotal ornaments, the 
books, and the bells, all were taken away." 

From this time the lot of the capital of Saint Vladimir, pil- 
laged and dishonored by his descendants, ceases to have a gen- 
eral interest for Russia. Like other parts of Slavonia, she has 
her princes, but the heads of the reigning families of Smolensk, 
Tchernigof, and Galitch assume the title, formerly unique, of 
Grand Prince. The centre of Russia is changed. It is now in 
the basin of the Volga, at Souzdal. Many causes conspired to 
render the disaster of 1169 irremediable. The chronic civil wars 
of this part of Russia, and the multitudes and growing power of 
nomad hordes, rendered the banks of the Dnieper uninhabitable. 
In 1203 Kief was again sacked by the Polovtsi, whom the Olgo- 
vitches of Tchernigof had taken into their pay. On this soil, inces- 
santly the prey of war and invasion, it was impossible to found 
a lasting order of things ; it was impossible that a regular system 
of government should be established — that civilization should 
develop and maintain itself. Less richly endowed by nature, and 
less civilized, the Russia of the forests was at least more tran- 
quil. It was there that a grand principality was formed, called 
to fulfil high destinies, but which unhappily was to be separated 
for three hundred years, by the southern steppes and the nomads 
who dwelt there, from the Black Sea ; that is, from Byzantine 
and Occidental civilization. 




GALLICIA, 1 169-1224. 

Andrew Bogolioubski of Souzdal (1157-1174), and the first attempt at autoc- 
racy — George II. (1212-1238) — Wars with Novgorod — Battle of Lipetsk 
(1216) — Foundation of Nijni-Novgorod (1220) — Roman (1188-1205) and his 
son Daniel (1205-1264) in Gallicia. 


After the fall of the grand principality of Kief, Russia 
ceased to have a centre round which her whole mass could 
gravitate. Her life seemed to be withdrawn to her extremities ; 
and during the fifty four years which preceded the arrival of 
the Mongols, all the interest of Russian history is concentrated 
on the principality of Souzdal, on that of Galitch, and on the 
two republics of Novgorod and Pskof. 

George Dolgorouki was the founder of Souzdal, but we have 
seen him expend all his energy in securing possession of the 
throne of Kief. His son Andrew Bogolioubski was, on the con- 
trary, a true prince of Souzdal. From him are descended the 
Tzars of Moscow ; with him there appears in Russian history 
quite a new type of prince. It is no longer the chivalrous light- 
hearted careless kniaz, in turn a prey to all kinds of opposing 
passions, the joyous kniaz of the happy land of Kief — but an 
ambitious, restless, politic, and imperious sovereign, going 
straight to his goal without scruple and without pity. Andrew 
had taken an aversion to the turbulent cities of the Dnieper, 
where the assemblies of citizens sometimes held the power of 
the prince in check. In Souzdal, at least, he found himself in 
the centre of colonists planted by the prince, who never dreamed 
of contesting his authority : he reigned over towns which for the 
most part owed their existence to his ancestors or himself. 
During the lifetime of his father George, he had quitted the 
Dnieper and his palace at Vychegorod, had established himself 
on the Kliazma, bringing with him a Greek image of the mother 
of God, had enlarged and fortified Vladimir, and founded a 
quarter that he called Bogolioubovo. 


When after the death of George the grand principality be- 
came vacant, he allowed the princes of the south to dispute it 
among themselves. He only wished to mix with their quarrels 
as far as would suffice for the recognition of his authority, not at 
Kief, but at Novgorod the Great, then bound by the closest ties 
to Souzdal. He established one of his nephews as his lieuten- 
ant at Novgorod. A glorious campaign against the Bulgarians 
increased his reputation in Russia. He deserved more than 
anyone to be Grand Prince of Kief, but we have seen that he 
preferred to pillage it — that he preferred a sacrilegious spoil to 
the throne of Monomachus. 

After having destroyed the splendor and power of Kief, 
and guided by the sure instinct that afterwards led Ivan the Great 
and Ivan the Terrible against Novgorod, he longed to subdue 
the great republic to a narrower dependence. " The fall of 
Kief," says Karamsin, " seemed to presage the loss of Novgorod 
liberty; it was the same army, and it was the same prince 
(Mstislaf Andreievitch) who commanded it. But the Kievians, 
accustomed to change their masters — to sacrifice the vanquished 
to the victors — only fought for the honor of their princes, while 
the Novgorodians were to shed their blood for the defence of the 
laws and institutions established by their ancestors." Mstis* 
laf, who had forced the princes of Smolensk, Riazan, Mourom, 
and Polotsk to join him, put the territories of the republic to 
fire and sword, but only succeeded in exasperating the courage- 
ous citizens. When fighting began under the walls of the town, 
the Novgorodians, to inflame themselves for the combat, re- 
minded each other of the pillage and the sacrilege with which 
their adversaries had polluted the holy city of Kief. All swore 
to die for St, Sophia of Novgorod ; their archbishop, Ivan, took 
the image of the Mother of God and paraded it with great pomp 
round the walls. It is said that an arrow shot by a Souzdalian 
soldier having struck the image of the Virgin, her face turned 
towards the city, and inundated the vestments of the archbishop 
with miraculous tears. Instantly a panic seized the besiegers. 
The victory of the Novgorodians was complete ; they slew z, 
multitude of their enemies, and made so many prisoners, that 
according to the contemptuous expression of their chronicler, 
"You could get six Souzdalians for a grivna (1170)." Their 
dependence on Souzdal for corn soon forced ihem to make 
peace. They abandoned none of the ancient rights of the repub- 
lic, but of " their own free will," according to the consecrated 
expression, they accepted as sovereign the prince nominated for 
them by Andrew of Souzdal. 

Andrew about this time lost his only son, his heir, Mstislaf. 


The knowledge that in future he would be working for his col* 
lateral relatives no whit diminished his ambition or his arro- 
gance. The princes of Smolensk, David, Rurik, and Mstislaf 
the Brave, could not endure his despotic ways, and, in spite of 
his threats, took Kief. The Olgovitches of Tchernigof, delighted 
to see discord kindled between the descendants of Monomachus, 
incited Andrew to revenge this injury. So he sent a herald to 
the princes of Smolensk, to say to them, " You are rebels ; the 
principality of Kief is mine. I order Rurik to return to his 
patrimony of Smolensk, and David to retire to Berlad ; I can no 
longer bear his presence in Russia, nor the presence of Mstislaf, 
the most guilty of you all." 

Mstislaf the Brave, say the chroniclers, " feared none but 
God." When he received Andrew's message, he shaved the 
beard and hair of the messenger, and answered him : " Go, and 
repeat these words unto your prince — ' Up to this time we have 
respected you like a father, but since you do not blush to treat 
Us as your vassals and common people, since you have forgotten 
that you speak to princes, we mock at your menaces. Execute 
them — we appeal to the judgment of God.' " The judgment of 
God was an encounter under the walls of Vychegorod, besieged 
by more than twenty princes, allies or vassals of Andrew of 
Souzdal. Mstislaf succeeded in dividing the assailants, and 
completed their defeat by a victorious sortie, 1173. 

When Andrew came to establish himself in the land of 
Souzdal, the inhabitants themselves elected him their prince, to 
the exclusion of other members of the family. But this enemy 
of municipal liberty had no intention of fixing his residence 
either at Rostof or Souzdal, the two most ancient cities of the 
principality, which had their assembly of citizens, their vetcke. 
From the beginning he conceived the project of raising above 
them a new town, Vladimir on the Kliazma, considered by 
Rostof and Souzdal merely a subject borough. To give a plaus- 
ible pretext to this resolution he had his tent pitched on the 
road to Souzdal ten versts from Vladimir, and installed himself 
there with his miraculous image of the Virgin which came from 
Constantinople, and was, we are assured, the work of St. Luke. 
The next day he announced that the Mother of God had ap- 
appeared to him in a dream, and had commanded him to place 
her image, not at Rostof, but at Vladimir. He was likewise to 
build a church and a monastery to the Virgin on the spot where 
she made herself manifest ; this was the origin of the village of 
Bogolioubovo. Andrew preferred Vladimir to the old cities, but 
it was in his house at Bogolioubovo that he best liked to live. 
He tried to make of Vladimir a new Kief, as Kief herself was a 


new Byzantium. There were at Vladimir a Golden Gate, a 
Chuich of the Dime consecrated to the Virgin, and numer- 
ous monasteries built by the artists summoned by Andrew from 
the West, 

Andrew sought the friendship of the priests, whom he felt to 
be one of the great forces of the future. He posed as a pious 
prince, rose often by night to burn tapers in the churches, and 
publicly distributed alms in abundance. After a victory over the 
Bulgarians of the Volga, he obtained leave from the Patriarch 
of Constantinople to establish a commemorative feast. It 
happened that on the same day that Andrew triumphed over the 
Bulgarians, thanks to the image of the Virgin, the Emperor Man- 
uel had won a victory over the Saracens by means of the true 
cross and the image of Christ represented on his standard. One 
anniversary served for both victories of orthodoxy, and Vladimir 
was in harmony with Byzantium. Andrew was anxious to make 
Vladimir a metropolitan city. At the same time that he robbed 
Kief of the grand principality, he would have deprived her iA. 
the religious supremacy of Russia, and given his new city th« 
spiritual as well as the temporal power. This time the patriarch" 
refused, but the attempt was one day to be renewed by th« 
princes of Moscow. 

What more particularly proves this prince — who had rise* 
from the conception of appanages to that of the indivisible 
modern state — to have been superior to his century, to have had 
sure instincts as to the future, is that he declined to share his 
dominions with his brothers and nephews. In spite of the tes- 
tamentary directions of George, he expelled his three brothers 
from Souzdal, and they retired with their mother, a Greek 
princess, to the court of the Emperor Manuel. It appears that 
this measure was advised by the men of Souzdal. The subjects 
then had the same instinct of unity as the prince. If he broke 
with the patriarchal custom of appanages, and wished to reign 
alone in Vladimir, he broke equally with the Varangian tradition 
of the droujina ; he treated his men, his boyards, not as com- 
panions, but as subjects. Those who refused to bow to his will 
had to leave the country. We may say that Andrew Bogolioub- 
ski created autocracy 300 years before its time. He indicated 
in the 12th century all that the Grand Princes of Moscow had 
to do in the 15th and i6th centuries, to attain absolute power. 
His mistrust of municipal liberty, his despotic treatment of the 
boyards, his efforts to suppress the appanages, his proud 
attitude towards the other Russian princes, his alliance with the 
clergy, and his project of transporting to the basin of the Oka 
the religious metropolis of all the Russias, are the indications of 


a political programme that ten generations of princes did not 
suffice to carry out. The moment was not yet come ; Andrew 
had not enough power, nor Souzdal resources enough to sub- 
jugate the rest of Russk. Andrew succeeded against Kief, but 
he endured a double check from Novgorod the Great, and from 
Mstislaf the Brave, and the princes of the south. His despotism 
made him terrible enemies. His boyards, whom he tried to 
reduce to obedience, assassinated him in his favorite residence 
of Bogolioubovo (1174). 


The death of this remarkable man was followed by great 
troubles. The common people attacked the houses of rich men 
and magistrates, gave them up to pillage, and committed so 
many murders that to establish quiet the clergy were forced to 
have a procession of images. The unpunished murders show 
how premature was the autocratic attempt of Andrew. His 
succession was disputed between his nephews and his two 
brothers Michael and Vsevolod, who had returned from Greece. 
The nephews were supported by the old cities of Rostof and 
Souzdal, which were animated by a violent hatred of ihQ.parvenue 
city of Vladimir, that had torn from them the title of capital, 
and had taken up the cause of Michael and Vsevolod. " The 
Vladimirians," said the Rostovians, " are our slaves, our masons ; 
let us burn their town, and set up there a governor of our own." 
The Vladimirians had the advantage in the first war, and caused 
Michael, the elder of Andrew's brothers, to be recognized Grand 
Prince of Souzdal. At his death the Rostovians refused to re- 
cognize the other brother Vsevolod, surnamed the Big-Nest, on 
account of his numerous posterity. They resisted all proposals 
of compromise, declaring that " their arms alone should do 
them right on the vile populace of Vladimir." It was, on the 
contrary, the vile populace of Vladimir who put the boyards of 
Rostof in chains. The two ancient cities were forced to submit ; 
Vladimir remained the capital of Souzdal. Vsevolod (1176- 
1212) managed to secure himself on the throne by defeating the 
princes of Riazan and Tchernigof. He extended his influence 
to the distant Galitch, and contracted matrimonial alliances with 
the princes of Kief and Smolensk. He reduced the Novgorodians 
to beg for one of his sons as their prince. " Lord and Grand 
Prince," said the envoys of the republic to him, " our country is 
your patrimony ; we entreat you to send us the grandson of 


(Jeorge Dolgorouki, the great-grandson of Monomachus, to 
govern us." The princes of Riazan having incurred his dis- 
pleasure, he united their states to his principality. Riazan re- 
belled, and was reduced to ashes, and the inhabitants trans- 
ported to the solitudes of Souzdal. This prince, who has like- 
wise been called " The Great," exhibited in his designs the 
prudence, the spirit of intrigue, constancy, and firmness which 
characterized the princes of the Russia of the forests. At his 
death (12 12) the troubles began again. Dissatisfied with his 
eldest son Constantine, prince of Novgorod, Vsevolod had given 
the grand principality of Novgorod to his second son, George 
II. Constantine had to content himself with Rostof ; a third 
brother, laroslai, prince of Pereiaslavl-Zaliesski, had been sent 
to Novgorod. 

laroslaf quarrelled with his turbulent subjects, left their 
town and installed himself at Torjok, a city in the territory of 
Novgorod, where he betook himself to hindering the passage of 
the merchants and boyards. Their communications with the 
Volga were intercepted ; he preuented the arrival of corn, and 
reduced the town to starvation. The Novgorodians were obliged 
to eat the bark of pines, moss, and lime-leaves. The streets 
were filled with the bodies of the wretched inhabitants, which 
the dogs devoured. laroslaf was implacable. He persisted in 
remaining at Torjok, refused to return to Novgorod, and arrested 
all envoys sent to him. He treated Novgorod as his father had 
treated Rostof and Souzdal. But help arrived to the despair- 
ing citizens in the person of a prince of Smolensk, Mstislaf the 
Bold, son of Mstislaf the Brave. " Torjok shall not hold her- 
self higher than Novgorod," he cried ; " I will deliver your 
lands and your citizens, or leave my bones among you." Thus 
Mstislaf became prince of Novgorod ; and as he saw that the 
Grand Prince of Vladimir supported his brothers, he sought an 
ally in Constantine of Rostof, who was discontented with his 
inheritance. The Novgorodian quarrel speedily expanded into 
a general war, and Mstisaf contrived to make Souzdal the scene 
of strife. Before a battle he tried to effect a reconciliation be- 
tween the two princes of Vladimir and Rostof. But George 
answered, " If my father was not able to reconcile me with 
Constantine, has Mstislaf the right to judge between us? Let 
Constantine be victorious and all will be his." This strife be- 
tween the three sons of Big-Nest had all the fierceness of frater- 
nal warefare. Before the battle George and laroslaf issued 
orders that quarter was to be given to no one, to kill even those 
•who had " embroideries of gold on their shoulders ; " that is, 
the princes of the blood. Already they had decided on the 


partition of Russia, But the troops of Novgorod, Pskof, and 
Smolensk attacked them with such fury that those of Souzdal 
and Mourom gave way, and it was the soldiers of Mstislaf who 
in their turn gave no quarter. Nine thousand men were killed 
and only sixty prisoners taken. George threw off his royal 
clothes, wore out the strength of three horses, and with the 
fourth just managed to reach Vladimir. (Battle of Lipetsk, near 
Pereiaslavl-Zaliesski, 1216.) Constantine then became Grand 
Prince of Vladimir, and ceded Souzdal to his brother George, 
laroslaf was obliged to renounce Novgorod, and release the cap- 
tive citizens. 

At the death of Constantine (12 17) George regained the 
throne of Vladimir. Under him the expeditions against the 
Bulgarians of the Volga and the Mordvians were continued. 
These expeditions were organized both by land and water ; the 
infantry descended the Oka and the Volga in boats, the cavalry 
marched along the banks. They attacked and burnt the wooden 
forts of the Bulgars, and destroyed the population. 

During a campaign, conducted by George in person along 
the whole length of the Volga, he noticed a small hill on its right 
bank, near its junction with the Oka. Here, in the midst of the 
Mordvian tribes, he founded Nijni-Novgorod (1220). A Mord- 
vian tradition gives its own account of this important event. 
" The prince of the Russians sailed down the Volga ; on the 
mountain he perceived the Mordva in a long white coat, adoring 
her god ; and he said to his warrors, ' What is that white birch that 
bends and sways up there, above its nurse the earth, and inclines 
towards the east ? ' He sent his men to look nearer, and they 
came back and said, * It is not a birch that bends and sways, it 
is the Mordva adoring her god. In their vessels they have a 
delicious beer, pancakes hang on sticks, and their priests cook 
their meat in caldrons.' The elders of the Mordva, hearing of the 
Russian prince, sent young men with gifts of meat and beer. 
But on the road the young men ate the meat and drank the beer, 
and only brought the Russian prince earth and water. The 
prince was rejoiced at this present, which he considered as a 
mark of submission of the Mordva. He continued to descend 
the Volga : where he threw a handful of this earth on the bank, 
a town sprang up : where he threw a pinch of this earth, a village 
was born. It was thus that the Mordvian land became subject 
to the Russians." 


ROMAN (l 188-1205) AND HIS SON DANIEL (1205-I264) IN 



Galitch offers a remarkable contrast to Souzdal ; peopled by 
Khorvates or White Croats, she had preserved a purely Slavonic 
character in spite of her conquest by Varangian princes. " The 
prince," says M. Kostomarof, " was a prince of the old Slavonic 
type. He was elected by a popular assembly, and kept his 
crown by its consent." 

The assembly itself was governed by the richest men of the 
country, the boyards. Under the influence of Polish and Hun- 
garian ideas the boyards had raised themselves above the mass 
of the people, and formed a strong aristocracy which really 
ruled the country. When laroslaf Osmomysl (glorified in the 
Song of Igor) neglected his lawful wife Olga for his mistress 
Anastasia, the nobles rose, burnt Anastasia alive, and obliged 
the prince to send away his natural son, and to recognize his 
legitimate son Vladimir as his heir. 

When Vladimir became prince, he lost no time in incurring 
their hatred. He was accused of abandoning himself to vice 
and drunkenness, of despising the councils ot wise men, of dis- 
honoring the wives and daughters of the nobles, and of having 
married as his second wife the widow of a priest. It did not 
need all this to exhaust the patience of the Gallicians. They 
summoned Vladimir to give up the woman that they might punish 
her. Vladimir took fright, and fled to Hungary with his family 
and his treasures. This was all the boyards desired, and they 
offered the throne to Roman, prince of Volhynia (1188). But 
Bela, king of Hungary, brought back the fugitive prince with an 
army, and entered Galitch. There he suddenly changed his 
mind, and coveted this beautiful country, rich in salt and miner- 
als, for himself. He threw his /r6»/6'^/ Vladimir into prison, and 
proclaimed his own son Andrew. The Hungarian yoke seemed 
naturally more heavy to, the Gallicians than the authority of their 
easy-going princes. They expelled the strangers, and recalled 
Vladimir, who had found means to escape, and had taken refuge 
with Frederick Barbarossa. When Vladimir died, Roman of 
Volhynia resolved at all hazards to enter Galitch. His rival had 
previously appealed to the Hungarians, so he applied to the 
Poles, and, with an auxiliary army given him by Casimir the 
Just, he reconquered Galitch. The turbulent boyards had at 
last found their master. 

This time Roman held the crown, not by election, but by con- 
quest. He resolved to subdue the proud aristocracy. The Po- 
lish Bishop Kadloubek, a contemporary writer, who sympathsized 



with the oligarchs, draws a frightful picture of the vengeance 
exercised by Roman on his enemies. They were quartered, 
buried alive, riddled with arrows, delivered over to horrible tor- 
tures. He had promised pardon to those who had fled ; but 
when they returned, he accused them of conspiracy, condemned 
them to death, and confiscated their goods. " To eat a drop of 
honey in peace," he said cynically, " you must first kill the bees." 
The Russian chroniclers, on the contrary, praise him highly. He 
was another Monomachus, an invincible and redoubtable hero, 
who " walked in the ways of God, exterminated the heathen, flung 
himself like a lion upon the infidels, was savage as a wildcat, deadly 
as a crocodile, swooped on his prey like an eagle." More than 
once he vanquished the Lithuanian tribes and the Polovtsi ; in 
the civil wars of Russia he was likewise victorious, and gave to 
one of his relations the throne of Kief. He attracted the atten- 
tion of the great Pope, Innocent HI., who sent missionaries to 
convert him to the Catholic faith, promising to make him a great 
king by the sword of Saint Peter. Drawing his own sword, 
Roman proudly answered the envoys of Innocent : " Has the 
Pope one like mine .'' While I wear it at my side, I have no need 
of another's blade." In 1205, when he was engaged in a war 
with Poland, he imprudently ventured too far from his army on 
the banks of the Vistula, and perished in an unequal combat. 
His exploits were long remembered in Russia, and the ' Chroni- 
cle of Volhjmia' gives him the surname of " the Great," and 
" the Autocrat of all the Russias," A historian of Lithuania re- 
lates that, after his victories over the barbarous inhabitants of 
that country, he harnessed the prisoners to the plough. Hence 
the popular saying, " Thou art terrible, Roman ; the Lithuan- 
ians are thy laboring oxen." Roman of Volhynia is a worthy 
contemporary of the autocrat of the north-west, Andrew of Souz- 

Roman left two sons, minors. Daniel the elder was pro- 
claimed prince of Galitch (1205-1264), but in such a turbulent 
country, rent as it was by factions, it was impossible for a child 
to reign under the guardianship of his mother. Red Russia fell 
a prey to a series of civil wars, complicated by the intervention 
of Poles and Hungarians. The ferocity shown by the Gallicians 
in their intestine struggles has gained for them the name of 
atheist in the Kievian Chronicles. The princes of the blood of 
Saint Vladimir were tortured and hung by the boyards. Daniel 
was first replaced on the throne, then expelled, then again re- 
called. His infancy was the toy of intriguing factions. Mstis- 
laf the Bold also came hither in search of adventures. He 
chased the Hungarians from Galitch, took the title of Prince, 



and married his daughter to Daniel. Both were immediately 
obliged to turn their arms against the Poles. Daniel, whose 
character had been formed in such a rough school, displayed re- 
markable energy and courage in these campaigns. The aid of 
the Polovtsi had to be sought against these enemies from the 
west, the Hungarians and the Poles — now rivals, now allies. 
At the death of Mstislaf the Bold (1228), Daniel, who five years 
previously had taken part in the battle of Kalka against the Ta- 
tars, became prince of Galitch. Towards the boyards, whose 
turbulence had ruined the country, he acted with the salutary 
policy of Roman, though without employing the same severit)-. 

The great Mongol invasion once more expelled him from 
Galitch, which it covered with ruins. Daniel, who had fled to 
Hungary, did his best to help his unhappy country. To fill up 
the void made by the Mongols in the population, he invited 
Germans, Armenians, and Jews, whom he loaded with privileges. 
The economic consequence of this measure was a rapid develop- 
ment of commerce and industry ; the ethnographic consequence 
was the introduction into Gallicia of a Jewish element, very 
tenacious and very persistent, but alien to the dominant nation- 
ality, and forming a separate people in the midst of the Rus- 
sians. Daniel was one of the last princes to make his submis- 
sion to the horde. " You have done well to come at last," said 
the khan of the Mongols. Bati treated him with distinction, al- 
lowed him to escape the ordinary humiliations, and, seeing that 
the fermented milk of the Tatars was not to his taste, gave him 
a cup of wine. Daniel, however, bore with impatience the yoke 
of these barbarians. 

Feeling himself insolated in the general abasement of the 
orthodox world, the prince of Galitch turned towards Rome, 
and promised to do his best for the union of the two Churches 
and to add his contingent to the crusade preached in Europe 
against the Mongols. Innocent IV, called him his dear son, ac- 
corded him the title of king, and sent him a crown and sceptre. 
Daniel was solemnly crowned at Droguitchine by the abbot of 
Messina, Legate of the Pope (12154). Both the crusade against 
the Asiatics and the reconciliation between the two Churches 
came to nothing. Daniel braved the reproaches and threats of 
Alexander IV., but kept the title of king. He took part in the 
European wars with great success. " The Hungarians," says 
a chronicler, " admired the order that reigned among his troops, 
their Tatar weapons, the magnificence of the prince, his Greek 
habit embroidered with gold, his sabre and his arrows, his sad« 
dies enriched with jewels and precious metals richly chased." 
Encouraged by the Hungarians and the Poles, he tried to shake 



off the yoke of the Mongols, and expelled them from a few 
places ; but he was soon obliged to bow to superior force, and 
dismantle his fortresses. No prince better deserved to free 
Southern Russia, but his activity and talents struggled in vain 
against the fate of his country. He terminated in 1264 one of 
the most memorable and most checkered careers in the history 
of Russia. The civil wars of his youth, the Tatar invasion in 
his ripe age, the negotiations and wars with Western Europe, 
left him no repose. After him, Russian Galitch passed to dif- 
ferent princes of his family. In the J4th century, she was 
absorbed into the kingdom of Poland. She was lost to Russia* 





Novgorod the Great — Her struggles with the princes — Novgorodian institu- 
tions — Commerce — National Church — Literature — Pskof and Vitaka. 


Novgorod has been, from the most remote antiquity, the 
political centre of the Russia of the North-west. The origin of the 
Slavs of the Ilmen, who laid her foundations, is still uncertain. 
Some learned Russians, such as M. Kostomarof, suppose them 
to belong to the Slavs of the South, others to the Slavs of the 
Baltic ; others, again, like M. Bielaef and M. IlovaTski, make 
them a branch of the Krivitch or Smolensk Slavs. We find the 
Novgorodians, at the opening of Russian history, at the head of 
the confederation of tribes which first expelled and then recalled 
the Varangians to reign over Russia. 

Novgorod, from very ancient times, was divided into two 
parts, separated by the course of the Volkhof, which rises in lake 
Ilmen and falls into the Ladoga. On the right bank was the 
side of Saint Sophia, where laroslaf the Great built his celebrated 
cathedral ; where the Novgorod kremlin was situated, enclosing 
both the palaces of the Archbishop and the prince ; and where 
the famous Russian monument was consecrated in 1862. On 
the left bank, the i'/^/^ of commerce, w'lih. \is Court of laroslaf ; 
the bridge which joins the two halves of the city is celebrated in 
the annals of Novgorod. The side of Saint Sophia includes the 
Nerevian quarter as well as those of " beyond the city," and of 
the potters {Nereiiski, Zagorodni, Gontc/iarni). The side of com- 
merce comprised the quarters of the carpenters and Slavs. An- 
cient documents also speak of a Prussian (Lithuanian) quarter. 
Some of these names seem to indicate that many races have 
concurred, as in ancient Rome, to form the city of Novgorod. 
Gilbert of Lannoy, who visited the republic about 1413, has left 


US this description of it : " Novgorod is a prodigiously large town 
situated in a beautiful plain, in the midst of vast forests. The 
soil is low, subject to inundations, marshy in places. The town 
is surrounded by imperfect ramparts, formed of gabions ; the 
towers are of stone." Portions of these ramparts still exist, and 
allow us to form an idea of the immense extent of the ancient 
city. The kremlin forms its acropolis. The cathedral has pre 
served its frescoes of the 12th century, the pillars painted with 
images of saints on a golden ground, the imposing figure of 
Christ on the cupola, the banner of the Virgin, which was to re- 
vive the courage of the besieged on the ramparts : the tombs of 
Saint Vladimir laroslavitch, of the Archbishop Nikita, by whose 
prayers a fire was extinguished, of Mstislaf the Brave, the de- 
voted defender of Novgorod, and of many other saints and illus- 
trious people. Without counting the tributary cities of Novgorod, 
such as Pskof, Ladoga, Izborsk, Veliki Louki, Staraia Roussa 
(Old Russia), Torjok, Biejitchi, her primitive territory (the 
** ager Romanus " of the republic) was divided into ^v^ fifths 
(piatines), the Vodska'ia, the Chelonskdia, the Obonejs kaia the 
Biejetskdia^ and the Dereveksaia, which included the land to the 
south of the lakes Ladoga and Onega. Her conquests formed 
five bailiwicks or volosts occupying the whole of Northern Russia, 
and extending as far as Siberia. These bailiwicks were the Zavo- 
lotchie between the Onega and the Mezen ; the TV/, or Russian 
Lapland ; Permia, on the Upper Kama ; Petchora, on the river of 
the same name ; and lougria, on the other side of the Oural 
mountains. To these we must add Ingria, Carelia, and part of 
Livonia and Esthonia. 

Novgorod, which had summoned the Varangian princes, was 
too powerful, with her 100,000 inhabitants and 300,000 subjects, 
to allow herself to be tyrannized over. An ancient tradition 
speaks vaguely of a revolt against Rurik the Old under the hero 
Vadim. Sviatoslaf, the conqueror of the Bulgaria of the Dan- 
ube, undertook to govern her by mere agents, but Novgorod in- 
sisted on having one of his sons for her prince. " If you do not 
come to reign over us," said the citizens, " we shall know how 
to find ourselves other princes." laroslaf the Great, as a re- 
ward for their devotion, accorded them immense privileges, of 
which no record can he found, but which are constantly in- 
voked by the Novgorodians, as were the true or false charters 
of Charles the Great by the German cities. These republicans 
could not exist without a prince, but they rarely kept one long. 
The assembly of the citizens, the vetche\, convoked by the bell 
in the Court of laroslaf, was the real sovereign. The republic 
called herself " My Lord Novgorod th^ Great " (Gospodine Vel- 



ikii Novgorod). " Who can equal God and the great Novgo- 
rod ? " was a popular saying. From the distance of the city 
from the Russia of the Dnieper, and her position towards the 
Baltic and Western Europe, she took little part in the civil wars 
of which Kief was the object and the centre. She profited by 
this in a certain sense ; for in the midst of the strifes of princes 
and of frequent changes in the grand principality, no sovereign 
was strong enough to give her a master. She could choose be- 
tween princes of the rival families. She could impose condi- 
tions on him whom she chose to reign over her. If discontented 
with his management, she expelled the prince and his band of 
antrustions. According to the accustomed formula, " she made 
a reverence, and showed him the way" to leave Novgorod. 
Sometimes, to hinder his evil designs, she kept him prisoner in 
the archbishop's palace, and it was left to his successor to set 
him at liberty. Often a revolution was accompanied by a gen- 
eral pillage of the partisans of the fallen prince, even by noyades 
in the Volkhof. A grand Prince of Kief, Sviatopolk, wished to 
force his son on them. " Send him here," said the Novgoro- 
dians, " if he has a spare head." The princes themselves con- 
tributed to the frequent changes of reign. They only felt them- 
selves half-rulers in Novgorod, so they accepted any other ap- 
panage with joy. Thus, in ii32,Vsevolod Gabriel abandoned 
Novgorod to reign at Pereiaslavl. When his hopes of Kief were 
crushed, and he wished to return to Novgorod, the citizens re- 
jected him. "You have forgotten your oath to die with us, you 
have sought another principality ; go where you will." Pres- 
ently they thought better of it, and took him back. Four years 
afterwards he was again obliged to fly. In a great vetM, to 
which the citizens of Pskof and Ladoga were summoned, they 
solemnly condemned the exile, after reading the heads of very 
characteristic accusations : " He took no care of the poorer 
people ; he desired to establish himself at Perdiaslavl : at the 
battle of Mount Idanof, against the men of Souzdal, he and his 
droujina were the first to leave the battle-field ; he was fickle in 
the quarrels of the princes, sometimes uniting with the Prince of 
Tchernigof, sometimes with the opposite party." 

The power of a prince of Novgorod rested not only on his 
droujina., which always followed his fortunes, and on his family 
relations with this or that powerful principality, but also on a 
party formed for him in the heart of the republic. It was when 
the opposing party grew too strong that he was dethroned, and 
popular vengeance exercised on his adherents. Novgorod being 
above all a great commercial city, her divisions were frequently 
caused by diverging economic interests. Among the citizens, 
Vol. 1 Russia 5 


some were occupied in trade with the Volga and the East, others 
with the Dnieper and Greece, The former naturally sought the 
alliance of the princes of Souzdal, masters of the great Oriental 
artery ; the latter that of the princes of Kief or Tchernigof, 
ni;isters of the road to the south. Each of the two parties tried 
to establish a prince of the family whose protection they sought. 
If he fell, yet succeeded in escaping from the town, he tried to 
regain his throne by the arms of his family, or to instal himself 
and his droujina either at Pskof, like Vsevolod-Gabriel, who be- 
came prince of that town, or at Torjok, like laroslaf of Souzdal, 
and thence blockaded and starved the great city. The prince 
of Souzdal was soon the most formidable neighbor of Novgorod. 
We have seen that Andrew Bogolioubski sent an army against 
it, then that his nephew laroslaf besieged his ancient subjects 
till Mstislaf the Bold freed them by the battle of Lipetsk (121 6). 
He was the son of Mstislaf the Brave, who had defended them 
against Vsevolod Big-Nest, and against Souzdal and the 
Tchouds. The remains of " the Brave " rest at Saint Sophia, in 
a bronze sarcophagus. His son, "the Bold," was of far too 
restless a nature to leave his bones also at Novgorod. He re- 
duced the principality to order, and then assembled the citizens 
in the Court of laroslaf, and said to them, " I salute Saint So- 
phia, the tomb of my father, and you. Novgorodians, I am 
going to reconquer Galitch from the strangers, but I shall never 
forget you. I hope I may lie by the tomb of my father, in Saint 
Sophia." The Novgorodians in vain entreated him to stay 
(12 18). We have seen him use his last armies in the troubles 
of the South-east, and die Prince of Galitch. 

After his departure, the republic summoned his nephew, 
Sviatoslaf, to the throne ; but he could not come to terms with 
magistrates and a populace equally turbulent. The possadnik, 
Tverdislaf, caused one of the boyards of Novgorod to be arrested. 
This was the signal for a general rising; some took the part of 
the boyard, others that of the possadnik. During eight days the 
bell of the kremlin sounded. Finally both factions buckled on 
their cuirasses and drew their swords. Tverdislaf raised his 
eyes to Saint Sophia, and cried, " I shall fall first in the battle, 
or God will justify me by giving the victory to my brothers." 
Ten men only perished in this skirmish, and then peace was re- 
established. The prince, who accused Tverdislaf of being the 
cause of the trouble, demanded that he should be deposed. 
The vetche inquired what crime he had committed. " None," 
replied the prince, " but it is my will." " I am satisfied," ex- 
claimed the possadnik, " as they do not accuse me of any fault ; 
as to you, my brothers, you can dispose alike of possadniks and 





princes." The'assembly then gave their decision. " Prince, as 
you do not accuse the possadnik of any fault, remember that you 
have sworn to depose no magistrate without trial. He will re- 
main our possadnik — we will not deliver him to you." On this 
Sviatoslaf quitted Novgorod (12 19). He was replaced by Vse- 
volod, one of his brothers, who was expelled two years later 

The Souzdalian party having made some progress, they re- 
called the same laroslaf who was beaten at Lipetsk, but the 
princes of Souzdal were too absolute in their ideas to be able to 
agree with the Novgorodians. laroslaf was again put to flight, 
and replaced by Vsevolod of Smolensk, who was expelled in his 
turn. The Grand Prince of Souzdal now interposed, levied a 
contribution on Novgorod, and a prince of Tchernigof was im- 
posed on them, who hastened in 1225 to return to the south of 
Russia. In seven years the Novgorodians had five times changed 
their rulers. laroslaf himself came back for a third and even a 
fourth time. A famine so much reduced the Novgorodians that 
42,000 corpses were buried in two cemeteries alone. These 
proud citizens implored strangers to take them as slaves for the 
price of a morsel of bread. The same year a fire destroyed the 
whole of one quarter of Novgorod. These calamities subdued 
their turbulence. laroslaf succeeded in governing them des- 
potically till he was called to fill the throne of the Grand Prince 
(1236). He left them, as their prince, his son Alexander 


From the fact that no dynasty of princes could establish it- 
self at Novgorod, that no princely band could take a place 
among the native aristocracy, it follows that the republic kept 
her ancient liberties and customs intact under the short reigns 
of her rulers. In all Russian cities, it is true, the country ex- 
isted side by side with the prince and bayards, the assembly of 
citizens side by side with the prince's men, and the native militia 
side by side with the foreign droujitia ; but at Novgorod, the 
country, the vetcht^, and the municipal militia had retained more 
vigor than elsewhere. The town was more powerful than the 
prince, who reigned by virtue of a constitution, traces of which 
may be observed, no doubt, in other regions of Russia, but 
which is found in its original form at Novgorod alone. Each 
new monarch was compelied to take an oath, by which he bound 


himself to observe the laws and privileges of laroslaf the Great. 
This constitution, like the pacta conventa of Poland, signified 
distrust, and was intended to limit the power of the prince and 
his men. The revenues to which he had a right, and which 
formed his civil list, were carefully limited, as also were his judi- 
cial and political functions. He levied tribute on certain volosts, 
and was entitled to the vira (German Wergeld) as well as to 
certain fines. In some bailiwicks he had his own lieutenant, 
and Novgorod had hers. He could not execute justice without 
help of the possadnik, nor upset any judgment ; nor, above all, 
take the suit beyond Novgorod. This was what the Novgoro- 
dians feared most, and with reason. The day when the people 
of Novgorod bethought themselves of appealing to the tribunal 
of the Grand Prince of Moscow, was fatal to the independence 
of the republic. In the conflicts between the men of the prince 
and those of the city, a mixed court delivered judgment. The 
prince, no more than his men, could acquire villages in the ter- 
ritory of Novgorod, nor create colonies. He was forbidden to 
hunt in the woods of Stara'ia Roussa except in the autumn, and 
had to reap his harvests at a specified season. Though they 
thus mistrusted their prince, the Novgorodians had need of him 
to moderate the ancient Slav anarchy. As in the days of Rurik, 
*' family armed itself against family, and there was no justice." 
In Novgorod the vetche had more extensive powers, and acted 
more regularly than in the other Russian cities. It was the 
vetche which nominated and expelled princes, imprisoned them 
in the archiepiscopal palace, and formally accused them ; elected 
and deposed the archbishops, decided peace and war, judged 
the State criminals. According to the old Slav custom (pre- 
served in Poland till the fall of the republic), the decisions were 
always made, not by a majority, but by unanimity of voices. It 
was a kind of liberum veto. The majority had the resource of 
drowning the minority in the Volkhof. The prince as well as 
the possadnik, the boyards as well as the people, had the right 
of convoking the vetche'. It met sometimes m the Court of 
laroslaf, sometimes in Saint Sophia's. As Poland had her con- 
federations, her "diets under the shield," Novgorod occasion- 
ally saw on the banks of tke Volkhof two rival and hostile vetches, 
which often came to blows on the bridge. Before being sub- 
mitted to the general assembly, the questions were sometimes 
deliberated in a smaller council, composed of notable citizens, 
of acting or past magistrates. 

The chief Novgorodian magistrates were : i. ^\\^ possadnik 
called by contemporary German writers the burgomaster, who 
was changed nearly as often as the prince. The possadnik was 
chosen from some of the influential families, one of which alone 


gave a dozen possadniks to Novgorod. The first magistrate 
was charged to defend civic privileges, and shared wiih ihe 
prince tlie judicial power and the right of distributing the 
taxes. He governed the city, commanded her army, directed 
her diplomacy, sealed the acts with her seal. 2. The tysatski 
(from tysutc/i, thousand) bears in German documents the title of 
dux or herzog ; he was therefore a military chief, a chiliarch who 
had the centurions of the town militia under his orders. He had 
a special tribunal, and seems to have been specially entrusted 
with the defence of the rights of the people, thus recalling the 
Roman tribunes. 3. Besides the ceiitttriotis there was a siarost, 
a sort of district mayor, for each quarter of the town. 

The chief document of the Novgorodian law is the Letter of 
Justice {Soudnaia Gramota), of which the definite publication 
may be placed at 1471. It contains the same principles as the 
Rousskaia Fravda of laroslaf the Great. As in all the early 
Germanic and Scandinavian laws, we find the right of private 
revenge, the fixed price of blood, the " boot " or fine for injury 
inflicted, the oatli admitted as evidence, the judgment of God, 
the judicial duel, which was still resorted to by Novgorod even 
after her decadence, in the i6th century. We also find records 
of corporal punishments. The thief was to be branded ; on the 
second relapse into crime, he was to be hung. Territorial prop- 
erty acquires a greater importance, and, a sure evidence of 
Muscovite influence, a second court of appeal is admitted — the 
appeal to the tribunal of the Grand Prince. 

From a social point of view, the constitution of Novgorod 
presents other analogies with the constitution of Poland. 
Great inequality then existed between the different classes of 
society. An aristocracy of boyards had ultimately formed itself, 
whose intestine quarrels agitated the town. Below the boyards 
came the dieti boyarskic, a kind of inferior nobility ; then the 
different classes of citizens, the merchantmen, the black people, 
and the smerdes or peasants. The merchants formed an asso- 
ciation of their own, a sort of guild, round the Church of Saint 
John. Military societies also existed, bands of independent ad- 
venturers or droujinas of some boyard who, impelled by hungei 
or a restless spirit, sought adventures afar on the great rivers 
of Northern Russia, pillaging alike friends and enemies, or es 
tablishing military colonies in the midst of Tchoud or Finnish 

The soil of Novgorod was sandy, marshy, and unproductive: 
hence the famines and pestilences that so often depopulated the 
country. Novgorod was forced to extend itself in order to live; 
she became therefore a commercial and colonizing city. In the 

, 02 f^I^ '^OR Y OF R USSIA. 

loth century, Constantine relates how the Slavs left NemogarA 
(Novgorod), descended the Dnieper by Milinisca (Smolensk), 
Telioutza (Loubetch), Tchernigof, Vychegord, Kief and Viti- 
tchevo ; crossed the cataracts of the Dnieper, passed the naval 
stations of Saint Gregory and Saint Etherius, at the mouth of 
the river, and spread themselves over all the shores of the 
Greek empire. The Oriental coins and jewels found in the 
kourgans of the Ilmen show that the Novgorodians had an early 
and extensive commerce with the East. We see them exchange 
iron and weapons for the precious metals found by the lougrians 
in the mines of the Ourals. They traded with the Baltic Slavs ; 
and when the latter lost their independence, and a flourishing 
centre, Wisby, was formed in the Isle of Gothland, Novgorod 
turned to this side also. In the 12th century there was a 
Gothic trading (Upbt and a Varangian Church at Novgorod, and 
a Novgorodian Church in Gothland. When the Germans began 
to dispute the commerce of the Baltic with the Scandinavians, 
Novgorod became the seat of a German depot, which ended by 
absorbing the Gothic one. When the Hanseatic League be- 
came the mistress of the North, we find the Germans established 
not only at Novgorod, but at Pskof and Ladoga, at all the 
mouths of the network of Novgorodian lakes. There they ob- 
tained considerable privileges, even the right to acquire pasture- 
land. They were masters, and at home in their fortified depots, 
in their stockade of thick planks, where no Russian had the 
right to penetrate without their leave. This German trading 
company was governed by the most narrow and exclusive ideas. 
No Russian was allowed to belong to the company, nor to carry 
the wares of a German, an Englishman, a Walloon or a Fleming. 
The company only authorized a wholesale commerce, and, to 
maintain her goods at a high price, she forbade imports beyond 
a certain amount. " In a word," says a German writer, " dur- 
ing three centuries the Hanseatic League concentrated in her 
own hands all the external commerce of Northern Russia. If 
we inquire what profit or loss she has brought this country, we 
must recognize that, thanks to her, Novgorod and Pskof were 
deprived of a free commerce with the West. Russia, in order 
to satisfy the first wants of civilization, fell into a complete inde- 
pendence. She was abandoned to the good pleasure and piti- 
less egotism of the German merchants." (Riesenkampf, ' Der- 
deutsche Hof.') 

The ecclesiastical constitution of Russia presents a special 
character. In the rest of Russia the clergy was Russian-ortho- 
dox. At Novgorod it was Novgorodian before everything. It 
was only in the 12th century that the Slavs of Ilmen, who had 



been the last to be converted, could have an archbishop that 
was neither Greek nor Kievian, but of their own race. From 
that time the archbishop was elected by the citizens, by the 
vetchd. Without waiting for the metropolitan to be invested 
at Kief, he was at once installed in his episcopal palace. 
He was one of the great personages, the first dignitary of the 
republic. In public acts his name was placed before the 
others. " With the blessing of Archbishop Moses," says one 
letter-patent ; " possadnik Daniel and tysatski Abraham salute 
you." He had a superiority over the prince on the ground of 
being a native of the country, whilst the descendant of Rurik 
was a foreigner. In return, the revenues of the archbishop, the 
treasures of Saint Sophia, were at the service of the republic. 
In the 14th century we find an archbishop building at his own ex- 
pense a kremlin of stone. In the 15th century, the riches of 
the cathedral were employed to ransom the Russian prisoners 
captured by the Lithuanians. The Church of Novgorod was 
essentially a national Church ; the ecclesiastics took part in the 
temporal affairs, the laics in the spiritual. In the 14th century 
the 7VA'/^/ put to death the heretical j-Zr/^^/wZ/ti-, proscribed an- 
cient superstitions, and burnt the sorcerers. As Novgorod 
nominated her archbishop, she could also depose him. The 
orthodox religion extended with the Novgorod colonization 
among the Finnish tribes. In face of the Finns, the interests 
of the Church and the Republic were identical. It was religion 
that contributed to the splendor of the city, and that specially 
profited by her wealth. Novgorod was full of churches and 
monasteries, founded by the piety of private individuals. Nov- 
gorod, which had shaken off the political supremacy of Kief, 
wished also to free herself from its religious domination, and no 
longer to be obliged to seek on the Dnieper the investiture of 
her archbishop, but to make him an independent metropolitan. 
She failed. When Moscow became of importance, she threatened 
not only the political, but the religious supremacy of Novgorod. 
Religion was, in the hands of the Muscovite princes, an instru- 
ment of government. The Novgorodian prelate always made 
common cause with his fellow-citizens, and endured with them 
their master's bursts of anger. 

The literature of Novgorod was as national as the Church her- 
self. The pious chronicles of the Novgorodian convents shared 
all the quarrels and all the passions of their fellow-citizens. 
" Even their style," said M. Bestoujef, " reflects vividly the ac- 
tive, business-like character of the Novgorodians. It is short, 
and sparing of words ; but their narratives embrace more com- 
pletely than those of other Russian countries all the phases of 



actual life. They are the historians not merely of the princes 
and boyards, but of the whole city. The lives of the saints are 
the lives of Novgorodian saints ; the miracles they relate are to 
the glory of the city. They tell you, foi example, that Christ 
appeared to the artist charged with the paintings under the dome 
of Saint Sophia, and said to him : ' Do not represent me with 
my hand extended for blessing, but with my hand closed be- 
cause in it I hold Novgorod; and when it is opened it will be 
the end of the city.' " The tale of the panic excited among the 
soldiers of Andrew Bogolioubski by the image of the Virgin 
wounded by a Souzdalian arrow, was spread abroad. Novgorod 
has her own cycle of epic songs, of bylinas. Her heroes are not 
those of the Kievian epopee. There is Vassili Bouslaevitch, 
the bold boyard, who with his faithful droujina stood up to his 
knees in blood on the bridge of the V(;lkhof, holding in check 
all the mougiks of Novgorod, whom lie had defied to combat. 
Vassili Bouslaevitch is the true type of these proud adven- 
turers, who knew neither friend nor enemy — a true Novgorodian 
oligarch, a hero of civil war. Still more popular was Sadko, 
the rich merchant, a kind of Novgorodian Sindbad or Ulysses, 
a worthy representative of a people of merchants and adven- 
turers, who sought his fortunes on the waves. A tempest rose, 
and men drew lots to decide who should be sacrificed to the 
wrath of the gods. Sadko threw a little wooden ring into the 
water, the others flung in iron rings : O prodigy ! the others 
swam, his sank. He obeyed his destiny, and threw himself into 
the waves, but he was received in the palace of the king of the 
sea, who tested him in various ways, and wished him to marry 
his daughter. Then suddenly Sadko found himself on the shore 
with great treasures, but what were these compared to the treas- 
ures of the city? "They see that I am a rich merchant of 
Novgorod, but Novgorod is still more rich than I."* 


Of all the towns subject to Novgorod, Pskof was the most im- 
portant. On the point formed by the junction of the Pskova 
and the Velikaia rises her kremlin, with its crumbling ramparts, 
its ruined gates and towers. These once famous walls are to- 
day a mass of ruins, and the street-boys amuse themselves by 
throwing stones in the Pskova to frighten the laundresses. 
Pskof is only a poor little place with 10,000 souls. There only 

* A. Rambaud, ' La Russie epique,' p. 130, 



remains of her past splendor the cathedral of the Trinity at one 
end of the kremlin. There rest in metal coffins the bones of the 
best-loved princes, Vsevolod-Gabriel and Dovmont, a converted 
Lithuanian who came in the 13th century to defend the republic 
ao-ainst his own compatriots. This old town has preserved 
many churches and monasteries. The distant view of Pskof is 
beautiful, and on fete-days the dead city seems to awake at the 
chimes of her innumerable bells, which sound as loudly as in 
the days of her glorious past. 

Nestor makes Pskof the native land of Saint Olga. The 
sum of his history is nothing more than these two facts : first, 
the struggle against the Tchouds, and, later, against the Ger- 
mans of Livonia ; second, the efforts of Novgorod to secure her 
freedom. The independence of the city was ultimately secured 
by her wealth and her commerce. The first prince who ruled 
her as a separate state, Vsevolod-Gabriel, was expelled by his 
subjects, and therefore was welcomed with the greater eager- 
ness by the Pskovians. When the Souzdalian party ruled at 
Novgorod, it was generally the contrary party that triumphed in 
Pskof. About 12 14 the little republic contracted an offensive 
and defensive alliance with the Germans; she undertook to 
help them against the Lithuanians, and they were to support 
her against Novgorod. This was playing rather a dangerous 
game. In 1240, one Tverdillo delivered up Pskof to the Livo- 
nian knights ; she did not free herself till 1242. From this mo- 
ment Pskof ceased to mix in the civil wars of Novgorod. She 
had enough to do with her own affairs and her struggle against 
the Germans, Swedes, and Lithuanians. She also called her- 
self " My Lord Pskof the Great ; " but it was only in 1348 that 
the Novgorodians, needing her help against Magnus, king of 
Sweden, formally recognized her independence, by the treaty of 
Bolstof, and concluded with her a bond of fraternal friendship. 
Novgorod became the elder sister, and Pskof the younger. The 
organization of Pskof is almost that of her ancient metropolis. 
We again find the prince, the vetche, the division into quarters, 
up to the number of six, each one having its starost. 

In the 1 2 th century a new Novgorod ian colony was formed 
between the Kama and the Viatka, which remained a republic 
till the end of the 15th century. " This distant country," says M. 
Bestoujef-Rioumine, " is still quite Novgorodian. When the 
traveller has passed the Viatka, he meets with a peculiar mode 
of constructing the huts. There are no longer whole lines of 
isbas joined one to the other, as on this side of the river, but 
there is a high house, where the court, rooms, and offices are 
surrounded by a rampart of pales, and united under the same 


roof; in a word, it was a Novgorodian house. You hear 

the Novgorodian patois, you see the Novgorodian cap. It is 
the Novgorod colonization still living." In 1174 some 
adventurers from the Great Republic came from the Kama 
to the Viatka, and advanced from east to west, and founded 
a colony on this river, which is to-day the village of Nikou- 
litsyne. Another band defeated the Tcheremisses, and on 
their territory raised Kochkarof, at present called Kotelnitch. 
Then the two bands reunited, and penetrated into the Votiak 
country. On the right bank of the Viatka, on the summit of a 
high mountain, they perceived a city surrounded by a rampart 
and a ditch, which contained one of the sanctuaries of the peo- 
ple. As pious as the companions of Cortez and Pizarro, the 
Russian adventurers prepared themselves for the assault by a 
fast of several days, then invoked Saints Boris and Gleb, and 
captured the town. Next, at the mouth of the Khlynovitsa, in 
the Viatka, not very far off, they built the city of Khlynof, 
which became, under the name of Viatka, the capital of all their 
colonies. She had no walls, but the houses, built close together, 
formed an unbroken rampart against the enemy, a wall and de- 
fence. At the news of this success, other colonists flocked from 
Novgorod and the forests of the north, and founded other cen- 
tres of population. These bold pioneers had more than once 
to re-unite, sometimes against the aboriginal Finns or the Tatar 
invaders, sometimes against the pretensions of Novgorod, or 
the Grand Prince of Moscow. We find among them, as in the 
metropolis, boyards, merchants, and citizens. They had voie- 
vodes or atamans for their military chiefs. Their spirit of re- 
ligious independence equalled their political independence. 
Jonas, metropolitan of Moscow, writes angrily about the indo- 
cility of their clergy, and avenges himself by blaming their 
morals. "Your spiritual sons," he wrote to the priests of 
Viatka, " live contrary to the law. They have five, six, or even 
seven wives. And you dare to bless these marriages ! " 





Conversion of Livonia — Rise of the Livonian knights : union with the 

Teutonic knights. 

Three new races of men, three invasions (from the 12th to 
the 13th century), were to modify the historical development 
of the different parts of Slavonia ; the Russia of the north-west 
was to make acquaintance with the Germans, Russia of the east 
and south with the Tatar-Mongols, Russia of the west with the 

Part of the Tchoud or Lett tribes of the Baltic were con- 
sidered by the Russiai princes and republics of the north-west 
as their subjects or tributaries. If the Danish Cnut the Great 
had conquered Esthonia, laroslaf the Great had founded lourief 
(Dorpat) on the Embach which falls into the Peipus, and then 
separated the Danish and Russian dominions. It separates to- 
day the country of the Finns into two peoples speaking different 
dialects, the dialect of Revel and that of Dorpat. A Mstislaf, 
son of Vladimir Monomachus, had conquered the city of Oden- 
paeh (Finnish bear's head) from the Tchouds, In the Lett 
country the princes of Polotsk had captured the native fortresses 
of Gersike and Kokenhausen on the Dwina, and extended their 
inrtuence along this river to Thoreida and Ascheraden. 

With the German merchants Latin missionaries soon began 
to make their appearance on the Baltic. The monk Meinhard, 
sent by the Archbishop of Bremen, converted the Livonians, 
and was created bishop of Livonia. That which the Germans 
really brought, under the cloak of Christianity, to the Lett and 
descendants of the Tchoud hero Kalevy, and to many other 
Slav, Lithuanian, or Finnis.h tribes, now extinct, was the ruin 
of their national independence and servitude. The German 
merchant and the German missionary appeared almost at the 
same time on the Dwina. The apostle Meinhard built a church 


at Uexkiill, and a fortress round the church (1187). From this 
fatal day these brave tribes lost their lands and their liberty. 
The Livonians soon saw to what this mission tended. They rose 
against the missionaries, and in 1198 the second bishop of 
Livonia perished in battle. The natives returned to their gods, 
and plunged in the Dwina to wash off the baptism they had re- 
ceived, and to send it back to Germany. Then Innocent III. 
preached a crusade against them, and Albert of Buxhoewden 
(i 198-1229), their third bishop and the true founder of the Ger- 
man rule in Livonia, entered the Dwina with a fleet of twenty- 
three ships, and built the town of Riga, which he made his 
capital (1200). The following year he installed the Order of 
the Brothers of the Army of Christ, or the Sword-bearers, to 
whom the Pope gave the statutes of the Templars. They wore 
a white mantle, with a red cross on the shoulders. The greater 
number were natives of Westphalia and Saxony. Vinno de 
Rohrbach was their first grand master. The Livonians, after 
having implored the help of the princes of Polotsk, marched on 
Riga, and suffered an entire defeat (1206). The prince of Po- 
lotsk in his turn besieged the city during the absence of the 
bishop, but it was saved by the arrival of a German flotilla. 

Three causes were particularly favorable to the success of 
the knights of the sword, namely : the weakness of the princes 
of Polotsk, the intestine quarrels of Novgorod, which prevented 
her from watching over Russian interests, and the divisions 
among the natives who had not yet been able to raise their 
minds from the conception of the tribe to that of the nation. 
The knights were likewise far superior in their arms and tactics. 
The German fortresses were solidly built in cemented stone, 
while those of the natives were ramparts of earth, wood, or loose 
stones. In vain they tried to drag down with ropes the pali- 
sades of the German ramparts. The Swo'd-bearers afterwards 
undertook a series of campaigns against the Livonians and the 
Semigalli of the Dwina, and against the Tchouds of the north 
and the Letts of the south-east. If a tribe declined baptism 
and obedience, it was delivered a prey to fire and sword ; when 
it submitted, hostages were taken, and castles built on its terri- 
tory, these being often merely German reconstructions of the 
ancient native fortresses. 

It was in this manner that Riga, Kirchholm, Uexkiill, Len- 
newarden, Ascheraden, and Kreuzburg were built on the Dwina ; 
Neuhausen, near the Peipus, Wolmar, Wenden, Segevold, and 
Kremon on the Aa ; Fellin and Weissenstein among the 
Northern Tchouds. The strangers managed to take Koken- 
hausen and Gersike from the princes of Polotsk, Odenpaeh and 


Dorpat from the Novgorodians ; Pskof was threatened. In the 
north Kolyvan was bought from the king of Denmark, after 
J:he fiercest disputes. Under its rock lies Kolyvan, a Titan 
hero of Finnish mythology. The town is now called Revel. 

The conquered country was divided into fiefs, some of which 
belonged to the Order by whom they were distributed among 
the knights, the rest were at the disposal of the archbishop, who 
enfeoffed his own men. The new towns received the constitu- 
tion of the merchant cities of Lubeck, Bremen, or Hamburg. 
Ritra was the most powerful of them. The archbishop of Riga, 
the chapter, the town and the grand master of the Order, often, 
quarrelled over their respective rights. Their divisions were 
one day to bring about the decline of the institution. 

About 1225 another military fraternity was established 
among the Prussian Lithuanians, the Teutonic Order, which, on 
the remains of the subject pagan tribes, raised Thorn, Marien- 
berg, Elbing and Kcenigsberg. The Teutons of Prussia and 
the knights of Livonia were certain to be friendly; the black 
cross fraternized with the red, and, in 1237, the two orders united 
into one association. The Teutonic landmeister, Hermann de 
Balk, became landmeister of Livonia. The grand master of the 
Teutonic Order took precedence of all the landmeisters. 
Strengthened by this alliance, the " brothers of the army of 
Christ " were able to impose the most cruel servitude on the 
aboriginal Letts, Livonians, and Finns. These brave barbarians 
soon became peasants attached to the glebe. The German no- 
bility restored them their liberty at. the beginning of this cen- 
tury, but it did not restore them their lands. 

The conquering and conquered races are always separate. 
To the Tchoud, the word Saxa (Saxon, German) always signifies 
the master. A song of the Tchoud country of Pskof, called The 
days of Slavery, deplores the time when " the banners of the 
strangers waved, when the intruders made us slaves, enchained 
us as the serfs of tyrants, forced us to be their servants. 
Brother, what can I sing? Sadly sounds the song of tears. 
The lot of the slave is too hard." Another song of Wiesland 
(Esthonia) is entitled The Days of the Fast. " The past, that 
was the time of massacre, a long time of suffering . . . Destroy- 
ing fiends were unchained against us. The priests strangled us 
with their rosaries, the greedy knights plundered us, troops of 
brigands ravaged us, armed murderers cut us in pieces. The 
father of the cross stole our riches, stole the treasure from the 
hiding-place, attacked the tree, the sacred tree, polluted the 
waters and the fountain of salvation. The axe smote on the 


oak of Tara, the woful hatchet on the tree of Kero." (Richter, 

'Geschichte der deutschen Ostseeprovinzen.') 

In the Kalevy-poeg, or " the son of Kalev," the national poem 
of the Tchoud-Esihonians, the hero, who is the personification of 
the race, displays in his various adventures a wonderful Titanic 
force. He swam the Gulf of Finland, he rooted up oak-trees to 
make his clubs ; with his horse and his colossal harrow he 
ploughed up the land of Esthonia ; he exterminated the bears 
and the beasts of prey; he conquered the magician of Finland, 
and the genii of the caves ; he descended into hell and fought 
with Sarvig the horned ; he sailed away to explore the utmost 
limits of the world, and when the hot breath of the spirits of the 
north burnt up his wooden vessel, he disembarked in a vessel 
of silver with fittings of metal. He braved whirlwinds at sea ; 
discovered the isle of flame (which is perhaps Iceland, where 
the three volcanoes vomit forth fire), of smoke, and boiling 
water ; he encountered a gigantic woman who plucked up sev- 
eral sailors with the grass for the kine, as if the men had been 
insects ; he rallied the courage of his pilot, horror-stricken by 
the flames with which the spirits of the north filled heaven, and 
said to him, " Let them send their darts of fire, they will only 
lighten us on our way, since the daylight would not accompany 
us, and the sun has long since gone to rest." He fought with 
men whose bodies were like dogs (possibly the Esquimaux of 
Greenland), and only retraced his steps because a magician as- 
sured him '• that the wall of the world's end was still far off." 
It is at the close of the poem, when he is told that the men of 
iron {raudamched in Tchoud) have landed, that his unconquer- 
able heart is troubled. The iron cannot penetrate their armor, 
nor the axe break it. In vain he seeks counsel at the tomb of 
his father ; the tomb is silent, " the leaves murmur plaintively, 
the winds sigh drearily, the dew itself is troubled, the eye of the 
clouds is wet;" all Esthonian nature shares in the sinister fore- 
bodings of the national hero. He raised, however, the battle- 
cry, and his warriors assembled on the Embach. Bloody is the 
battle ! The Esthonians gain the victory, but what a victory ! 
The bravest of them are dead, the two brothers of Kalevy-poeg 
perish, his charger is struck down by the axe of a stranger. The 
end of Esthonia, the age of slavery has arrived ; it is time that 
Kalevy-poeg, the representative of the heroic age, should dis- 
appear ; he who had vanquished the demon Sarvig, the sorcer- 
ers of Finland, and the spirits of the pole, could not subdue 
these men whom an unknown, irresistible force sustained, superior 
to that of the gods. Behold him, the captive of Mana, god of 
death, his wrist held fast in a rock, which is the gate of hell. 

HISTOR V OF A' USS/A. 1 1 1 

Long his sons trusted that Mana would give him back his lib- 
erty, and that once again the iron men would feel the weight of 
his arm ; but, like King Arthur, he has never appeared, bring- 
ing to his people the liberty that the Germans have taken from 




Origin and manners of the Mongols — Battles of the Kalka, of Riazan, of 
Kolomna, and of the Sit — Conquest of Russia — Alexander Nevski — The 
Mongol yoke — Influence of the Tatars on the Russian development. 


Up to this time the destinies of Russia had presented some 
analogy with those of the West. Slavonia, like Gaul, had re- 
ceived Roman civilization and Christianity from the South. The 
Northmen had brought her an organization which recalls that of 
the Germans ; and under laroslaf, like the W«st under Charles 
the Great, she had enjoyed a certain semblai. ce of unity, while 
she was afterwards dismembered and divider^ like France in 
feudal times. But in the 13th century, Russia suffered an un- 
heard-of misfortune — she was invaded and subjugated by Asiatic 
hordes. This fatal event contributed quite as rruch as the dis- 
advantage of the soil and the climate to retard hev development 
by many centuries. " Nature," as M. Solovief says, " has been 
a step-mother to Russia ;" fate was another step-mother. 

" In those times," say the Russian chroniclers, " there came 
upon us for our sins, unknown nations. No one could tell their 
origin, whence they came, what religion they professed. God 
alone know who they were, God and perhaps wise men learned 
in books." When we think of the horror of the whole of Europe 
at the arrival of the Mongols, and the anguish of a Frederick, of 
a Saint Louis, an Innocent IV., we may imagine the terror of 
the Russians. They bore the first shock of those mysterious 
foemen, who were, so the people whispered, Gog and Magog» 
who " were to come at the end of the world, when Antichrist is 
to destroy everything." (Joinville.) 

The Ta-ta or Tatars seem to have been a tribe of the great 
Mongol race, living at the foot of the Altai, who in spite of their 
long-continued discords frequently found means to lay waste 
China by their invasions. The portrait drawn of them recalls in 



many ways those already traced by Chinese, Latin, litid Greek 
authors, of the Huns, the Avars, and other nomad peoples of 
former invasions. " Tlie Ta-tzis or the Das" says a Chinese 
writer of the 13th century, "occupy themselves exclusively with 
their flocks; they go wandering ceaselessly from pasture to 
pasture, from river to river. They are ignorant of the nature of 
a town or a wall. They are unacquainted with writing and 
books; their treaties are concluded orally. From infancy they 
are accustomed to ride, to aim their arrows at rats and birds, 
and thus acquire the courage essential to their life of wars and 
rapine. They have neither religious ceremonies nor judicial in- 
stitutions. From the prince to the lowest among the people all 
are nourished by the flesh of the animals whose skin they use 
for clothing. The strongest among them have the largest and 
fattest morsels at feasts ; the old men are put off with the frag- 
ments that are left. They respect nothing but strength and 
bravery ; age and weakness are condemned. When the father 
dies, the son marries his youngest wives." A Mussulman writer 
adds, that they adore the sun, and practice polygamy and the 
community of wives. This pastoral people did not take an in- 
terest in any phenomenon of nature except the growth of grass. 
The names they gave to their months were suggested by the 
different aspects of the prairie. Born horsemen, they had no 
infantry in war. They were ignorant of the art of sieges. " But," 
says a Chinese author, " when they wish to take a town, they 
fall on the suburban villages. Each leader seizes ten men, and 
every prisoner is forced to carry a certain quantity of wood, 
stones, and other materials. They use these for filling up fosses, 
or digging trenches. In the capture of a town, the loss of 10,000 
men was thought nothing. No place could resist them. After 
a siege, all the population was massacred, without distinction of 
old or young, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, those who resisted 
or those who yielded ; no distinguished person escaped death, if 
a defence was attempted." 

It was these rough tribes that Temoutchine or Genghis-Khan 
(1154-1227) succeeded in uniting into one nation after forty years 
of obscure struggles. Then in a general congress of their princes 
he proclaimed himself emperor, and declared that, as there was 
only one sun in heaven, there ought only to be one emperor oo 
the earth. At the head of their forces he conquered Mantchouria, 
the kingdom of Tangout, Northern China, Turkestan, and Great 
Bokhara, which never recovered this disaster, and the plains of 
Western Asia as far as the Crimea. When he died, he left to 
be divided between his four sons the largest empire that ever 



It was during his conquest of Bokhara that his lieutenants 
Tchepe and Souboudai-bagadour subdued in their passage a 
multitude of Turkish peoples, passed the Caspian by its southern 
shore, invaded Georgia and the Caucasus, and in the southern 
steppes of Russia came in contact with the Polovtsi. 


The hereditary enemies of the Russians proper, the Polovsti, 
asked the Christian princes for help against these Mongols and 
Turks, who were their brothers by a common origin. " They 
have taken our country," said they to the descendants of Saint 
Vladimir ; " to-morrow they will take yours." Mstislaf the 
Bold, then prince of Galitch, persuaded all the dynasties of 
Southern Russia to take up arms against the Tatars : his nephew 
Danial, prince of Volhynia, Mstislaf Romanovitch, Grand Prince 
of Kief, Oleg of Koursk, Mstislaf of Tchernigof, Vladimir of 
Smolensk, Vsevolod for a short time prince of Novgorod, re- 
sponded to his appeal. To cement his alliance with the Russians, 
Basti, khan of the Polovsti, embraced orthodoxy. The Russian 
army had already arrived on the Lower Dnieper, when the Tatar 
ambassadors made their appearance. " We have come by God's 
command against our slaves and grooms, the accursed Polovtsi, 
Be at peace with us; we have no quarrel with you." The Rus- 
sians, with the promptitude and thoughtlessness that character- 
ized the men of that time, put the ambassadors to death. They 
then went further into the steppe, and encountered the Asiatic 
hordes on the Kalka, a small river running into the Sea of Azof. 
The Russian chivalry on this memorable day showed the same 
disordered, and the same ill-advised eagerness as the French 
chivalry at the opening of the English wars. Mstislaf the Bold, 
Daniel of Galitch, and Oleg of Koursk were the first to rush 
into the midst of the infidels, without waiting for the princes 
of Kief, and even without giving them warning, in. order to 
gain for themselves the honors of victory. In the middle of 
the combat, the Polovsti were seized with a panic and fell back 
on the Russian ranks, thus throwing them into disorder. The 
rout became general, and the leaders spurred on their steeds in 
hopes of reaching the Dnieper. 

Six princes and seventy of the chief boyards or voievodes re- 
mained on the field of battle. It was the Cregy and Poictiers of 
the Russian chivalry. Hardly a tenth of the army escaped ; the 
Kievians alone left 10,000 dead. The Grand Prince of Kief, 


however, Mstislaf Romanovitch, still occupied a fortified camp 
on the banks of the Kalka. Abandoned by the rest of the army, 
he tried to defend himself. The Tatars offered to make terms \ 
he might retire on payment of a ransom for himself and his 
droujina. He capitulated, and the conditions were broken. His 
guard was massacred, and he and his two sons-in-law were 
stifled under planks. The Tatars held their festival over the 
inanimate bodies (1224). 

After this thunderbolt, which struck terror into the whole of 
Russia, the Tatars paused and returned to the East. Nothing 
more was heard of them. Thirteen years passed, during which 
the princes reverted to their perpetual discords. Those in the 
north-east had given no help to the Russians of the Dnieper; 
perhaps the Grand Prince, George II. of Souzdal, may have re- 
joiced over the humiliation of the Kievians and Gallicians. The 
Mongols were forgotten; the chronicles, however, are filled with 
fatal presages : in the midst of scarcity, famine and pestilence, 
of incendiaries in the towns and calamities of all sorts, they re- 
mark on the comet of 1224, the earthquake and eclipse of the 
sun of 1230. 

The Tatars were busy finishing the conquest of China, but 
presently one of the sons of Genghis, Ougoudei or Oktai, sent 
his nephew Bati to the West, As the reflux of the Polovtsi had 
announced the invasion of 1224, that of the Saxin nomads, related 
to the Khirghiz who took refuge on the lands of the Bulgarians 
of the Volga, warned men of a new irruption of the Tatars, and 
indicated its direction. It was no longer South Russia, but 
Souzdalian Russia that was threatened. In 1237 Bati conquered 
the Great City, capital of the half-civilized Bulgars, who were, 
like the Polovtsi, ancient enemies of Russia, and who were to 
be included in her ruin. Bolgary was given up to the flames, 
and her inhabitants were put to the sword. The Tatars next 
plunged into the deep forests of the Volga, and sent a sorcerer 
and two officers as envoys to the princes of Riazan. The three 
princes of Riazan, those of Pronsk, Kolomna, Moscow and 
Mourom, advanced to meet them. " If you want peace," said 
the Tatars, "give us the tenth of your goods." " When we are 
dead," replied the Russian princes, " you can have the whole." 
Though abandoned by the princes of Tchernigof and the Grand 
Prince George II., of whom they had implored help, the dynasty 
of Riazan accepted the unequal struggle. They were completely 
crushed ; nearly all their princes remained on the field of battle. 
Legend has embellished their fall. It is told how Feodor pre- 
ferred to die rather than see his young wife, Euphrasia, the spoil 
of Bati ; and how, on learning his fate, she threw herself and her 


son from the window of the terem. Oleg the Handsome, found 
still alive on the battle-field, repelled the caresses, the attention, 
and religion of the Khan, and was cut in pieces. Riazan was 
immediately taken by assault, sacked, and burned. All the 
towns of the principality suffered the same fate. 

It was now the turn of the Grand Prince, for the Russia of the 
North-east had not even the honor of falling in a great battle like 
the Russia of the South-west, united for once against the common 
enemy. The Souzdalian army, commanded by a son of George 
II., was beaten on the day of Kolomna, on the Oka. The Tatars 
burned Moscow, then beseiged Vladimir on the Kliazma, which 
George II. had abandoned to seek for help in the North. His 
two sons were charged with the defence of the capital. Princes 
and boyards, feeling there was no alternative but death or servi- 
tude, prepared to die. The princesses and all the nobles prayed 
Bishop Metrophanes to give them the tonsure ; and when the 
Tatars rushed into the town by all its gates, the vanquished re- 
tired into the cathedral, where they perished, men and women, 
in a general conflagration. Souzdal, Rostof, laroslavl, fourteen 
towns, a multitude of villages in the Grand Principality, were all 
given over to the flames (1238). The Tatars then went to seek 
the Grand Prince, who was encamped on the Sit, almost on the 
frontier of the possessions of Novgorod. George II. could 
neither avenge his people nor his family. After the battle, the 
bishop of Rostof found his headless corpse (1238). His nephew, 
Vassilko, who was taken prisoner, was stabbed for refusing to 
serve Bati. The immense Tatar army, after having sacked Tver, 
took Torjok; there "the Russian heads fell beneath the sword 
of the Tatars as grass beneath the scythe." The territory of 
Novgorod was invaded ; the great republic trembled, but, the 
deep forests and the swollen rivers delayed Bati. The invading 
flood reached the Cross of Ignatius, about fifty miles from Nov- 
gorod, then returned to the South-east. On the way the small 
town of Kozelsk (near Kalouga) checked the Tatars for so long, 
and inflicted on them so much loss, that it was called bv them 
the wicked town. Its population was exterminated, and the prince 
Vassili, still a child, was " drowned in blood." 

The two following years (1239-1240) were spent by the Tatars 
in ravaging Southern Russia. They burnt Pereiaslaf, and 
Tchernigof, defended with desperation by its princes. Next 
Mangou, grandson of Genghis Khan, marched against the famous 
town of Kief, whose name resounded through the East, and in 
the books of the Arab writers. From the left bank of the Dnieper, 
the barbarian admired the great city on the heights of the right 
bank, towering over the wide river with her white walls and 


towers adorned by Byzantine artists, and innumerable churches 
with cupolas of gold and silver. Mangou proposed a capitula- 
tion to the Kievians ; the fate of Riazan, of Tchernigof, of Vladi- 
mir, the capitals of powerful states, announced to them the lot 
that awaited them in case of refusal, yet the Kievians dared to 
massacre the envoys of the Khan. Michael, their Grand Prince, 
fled ; his rival, Daniel of Galitch, did not care to remain. On 
hearing the report of Mangou, Bati came to assault Kief with 
the bulk of his army. The grinding of the wooden chariots, the 
bellowings of the buffaloes, the cries of the camels, the neighing of 
the horses, the bowlings of the Tatars, rendered it impossible, says 
the annalist, to hear your own voice in the town. The Tatars as 
sailed the Polish Gate, and knocked down the walls with a batter 
ing-ram. " The Kievians, supported by the brave Dmitri, a Galli- 
cian boyard, defended the fallen ramparts till the end of the day, 
then retreated to the Church of the Dime, which they surrounded 
by a palisade. The last defenders of Kief found themselves group- 
ed around the tomb of laroslaf. Next day they perished. The 
Khan gave the boyard his life, but, the ' Mother of Russian cities ' 
was sacked. This third pillage was the most terrible, Even 
the tombs were not respected. All that remains of the Church 
of the Dime is only a few fragments of mosaic in the Museum 
at Kief. Saint Sophia, and the Monastery of the Catacombs, 
were delivered up to be plundered " (1240). 

Volhynia and Gallicia still remained, but their princes could 
not defend them, and Russia found herself, with the exception 
of Novgorod and the north-west country, under the Tatar yoke. 
The princes had fled or were dead ; hundreds of thousands of 
Russians were dragged into captivity. Men saw the wives of 
boyards, " who had never known work, who a short time ago 
had been clothed in rich garments, adorned with jewels and 
collars of gold, surrounded with slaves, now reduced to be them- 
selves the slaves of barbarians and their wives, turning the 
wheel of the mill, and preparing their coarse food." 

If we look for the causes which rendered the defeat of the 
brave Russian nation so complete, we may, with Karamsin, in- 
dicate the following : — i. Though the Tatars were not more ad- 
vanced, from a military point of view, than the Russians, who 
had made war in Greece and in the West against the most war- 
like and civilized people of Europe, yet they had an enormous 
superiority of numbers. Bati probably had with him 500,000 
warriors. 2. This immense army moved like one man ; it could 
successively annihilate the droujinas of the princes, or the militia 
of the towns, which only presented themselves successively toils 
blows. The Tatars had found Russia divided against herself. 


3. Even though Russia had wished to form a confederation, the 
sudden irruptions of an army entirely composed of horsemen 
did not leave her time. 4, In the tribes ruled by Bati, every 
man was a soldier ; in Russia the nobles and citizens alone bore 
arms : the peasants, who formed the bulk of the population, 
allowed themselves to be stabbed or bound without resistance. 
5. It was not by a weak nation that Russia was conquered. 
The Tatar-Mongols, under Genghis Khan, had filled the East 
with the glory of their name, and subdued nearly all Asia. 
They arrived, proud of their exploits, animated by the recollec- 
tion of a hundred victories, and reinforced by numerous peoples 
whom they had vanquished, and hurried with them to the West. 
When the princes of Galitch, of Volhynia, and of Kief ar- 
rived as fugitives in Poland and Hungary, Europe was terror- 
stricken. The Pope, whose support had been claimed by the 
Prince of Galitch, summoned Christendom to arms. Louis IX. 
prepared for a crusade. Frederic II., as Emperor, wrote to the 
sovereigns of the West : " This is the moment to open the eyes 
of body and soul, now that the brave princes on whom we reck- 
oned are dead or in slavery." The Tatars invaded Hungary, 
gave battle to the Poles in' Liegnitz in Silesia, had their prog- 
ress a long while arrested by the courageous defence of Olmiitz 
in Moravia, by the Tcheque voievode laroslaf, and stopped 
finally, learning that a large army, commanded by the King of 
Bohemia and the dukes of Austria and Carinthia, was approach- 
ing. The news of the death of Oktai, second Emperor of all 
the Tatars, in China, recalled Bati from the West, and during 
the long march from Germany his army necessarily diminished 
in number. The Tatars were no longer in the vast plains of 
Asia and Eastern Europe, but in a broken hilly country, bristling 
with fortresses, defended by a population more dense and a 
chivalry more numerous than those in Russia. To sum up, all 
the fury of the Mongol tempest spent itself on the Slavonic race. 
It was the Russians who fought at the Kalka, at Kolomna, at 
the Sit ; the Poles and Silesians at Liegnitz ; the Bohemians 
and Moravians at Olmiitz. The Germans suffered nothing from 
the invasion of the Mongols but the fear of it. It exhausted it- 
self principally on those plains of Russia which seem a continu- 
ation of the steppes of Asia. Only in Russian history did the 
invasion produce great results. About the same time Bati built 
on one of the arms of the Lower Volga a city called Sara'i (the 
Castle), which became the capital of a powerful Tatar Empire, 
the Golden Horde, extending from the Oural and Caspian to the 
mouth of the Danube. The Golden Horde was formed not only 
of Tatar-Mongols or Nogais, who even now survive in the 



Northern Crimea, but particularly of the remains of ancient 
nomads, such as the Patzinaks and Polovtsi, whose descendants 
seem to be the present Kalmucks and Bachkirs ; of Turkish 
tribes tending to become sedentary, like the Tatars of Astrakhan 
in the present day ; and of the Finnish populations already es- 
tablished in the country, and which mixed with the invaders. 
Oktai, Kouiouk, and Mangou, the first three successors of Gen- 
ghis Kh^n, elected by all the Mongol princes, took the title of 
Great Khans, and the Golden Horde recognized their authority ; 
but under his fourth successor, Khouboulai, who usurped the 
throne and established himself in China, this bond of vassalage 
was broken. The Golden Horde became an independent State 
(1260). United and powerful under the terrible Bati, who died 
in 1255, it fell to pieces under his successors ; but in the 14th 
century the Khan Uzbeck reunited it anew, and gave the horde 
a second period of prosperity. The Tatars, who were pagans 
when they entered Russia, embraced about 1272 the faith of 
Islam, and became its most formidable apostles. 

ALEXANDER NEVSKI (1252-1263). 

laroslaf, after his defeat at Lipetsk, entered Souzdal on the 
tragic death of his brother, the Grand Prince George II. laros- 
laf (1238-1246) found his inheritance in the most deplorable 
condition. The towns and villages were burnt, the country and 
roads covered with unburied corpses ; the survivors hid them- 
selves in the woods. He recalled the fugitives and began to 
rebuild. Bati, who had completed the devastation of South 
Russia, summoned laroslaf to do him homage at Sarai, on the 
Volga. laroslaf was received there with distinction. Bati con- 
firmed his title of Grand Prince, but invited him to go in person 
to the Great Khan, supreme chief of the Mongol nation, who 
lived on the banks of the river Sakhalian or Amour. To do 
this was to cross the whole of Russia and Asia. laroslaf bent 
his knees to the new master of the world, Oktai", succeeded in 
refuting the accusations brought against him by a Russian boy. 
ard, and obtained a new confirmation of his title. On his return 
he died in the desert of exhaustion, and his faithful servants 
brought his body back to Vladimir. His son Andrew succeeded 
him in Souzdal (i 246-1 252). His other son, Alexander, reigned 
at Novgorod the Great. 

Alexander was as brave as he was intelligent. He was the 
hero of the North, and yet he forced himself to accept the neces- 
sary humiliations of his terrible situation. In his youth we see 


him fighting with all the enemies of Novgorod, Livonian knights 
and Tchouds, Swedes and Finns. The Novgorodians found 
themselves at issue with the Scandinavians on the subject of 
their possessions on the Neva and the Gulf of Finland. As they 
had helped the natives to resist the Latin faith, King John obtain- 
ed the promise of Gregory IX, that a crusade, with plenary in- 
dulgences, should be preached against the Great Republic and 
her proteges, the pagans of the Baltic. His son-in-law, Birger, 
with an army of Scandinavians, Finns, and Western Crusaders, 
took the command of the forces, and sent word to the Prince of 
Novgorod, " Defend yourself if you can : know that I am already 
in your provinces." The Russians on their side, feeling they were 
fighting for othodoxy, opposed the Latin crusade with a Greek 
one. Alexander humbled himself in Saint Sophia, received the 
benediction of the Archbishop Spiridion, and addressed an ener- 
getic harangue to his warriors. He had no time to await reinforce- 
ments from Souzdal. He attacked the Swedish camp, which 
was situated on the Ijora, one of the southern affluents of the 
Neva, which has given its name to Ingria. Alexander won a 
brilliant victory, which gained him his surname of Nevski, and 
the honor of becoming under Peter the Great, the second 
conqueror of the Swedes, one of the patrons of St. Petersburg. 
By the orders of his great successor his bones repose in the 
Monastery of Alexander Nevski. The battle of the Neva was 
preserved in a dramatic legend. An Ingrian chief told Alexan- 
der how, in the eve of the combat, he had seen a myste- 
rious bark, manned by two warriors with shining brows, glide 
through the night. They were Boris and Gleb, who came 
to the rescue of their young kinsman. Other accounts have 
preserved to us the individual exploits of the Russian heroes — 
Gabriel, Skylaf of Novgorod, James of Polotsk, Sabas, who threw 
down the tent of Birger, and Alexander Nevski himself, who with 
a stroke of the lance " imprinted his seal on his face" (1240). 
Notwithstanding the triumph of such a service, Alexander and 
the Novgorodians could not agree ; a short time after, he retired 
to Pereiaslavl-Zaliesski. The proud republicans soon had reason to 
regret the exile of this second Camillus. The Order of the 
Sword-bearers, the indefatigable enemy of orthodoxy, took Pskof, 
their ally ; the Germans imposed tribute on the Vojans, vassals 
of Novgorod, constructed the fortress of Koporie on her territory 
of the Neva, took the Russian town of Tessof in Esthonia, and 
pillaged the merchants of Novgorod within seventeen miles of 
their ramparts. During this time the Tchouds and the Lithua- 
nians captured the peasants, and the cattle of the citizens. At 
last Alexander allowed himself to be touched by the prayers of 

HIS TOR Y OF R USS/A. 1 2 1 

the archbishop and the people, assembled an army, expelled the 
Germans from Koporid, and next from Pskof, hung as traitors 
the captive Vojans and Tchouds, and put to death six knights 
who fell into his hands. This war between the two races and 
two religions was cruel and pitiless. The rights of nations were 
hardly recognized. More than once Germans and Russians slew 
the ambassadors of the other side. Alexander Nevski finally 
gave battle to the Livonian knights on the ice of Lake Peipus, 
killed 400 of them, took 50 prisoners, and exterminated a multi- 
tude of Tchouds. Such was Xho. Battle of the Ice (1242). He 
returned in triumph to Novgorod, dragging with him his prisoners 
in armor of iron. The Grand Master expected to see Alexander 
at the gates of Riga, and implored help of Denmark. The Prince 
of Novgorod, satisfied with having delivered Pskof, concluded 
peace, recovered certain districts, and consented to the exchange 
of prisoners. At this time Innocent IV., deceived by false in- 
formation, addressed a bull to Alexander, as a devoted son of 
the Church, assuring him that his father laroslaf, while dying 
among the Horde, had desired to submit himself to the throne 
of St. Peter. Two cardinals brought him this letter from the 
Pope (1251). 

It is this hero of the Neva and Lake Peipus, this vanquisher 
of the Scandinavians and Livonian knights, that we are presently 
to see grovelling at the feet of a barbarian. Alexander Nevski 
had understood that, in presence of this immense and brutal 
force of the Mongols, all resistance was madness, all pride ruin. 
To brave them was to complete the overthrow of Russia. His con- 
duct may not have been chivalrous, but it was wise and humane. 
Alexander disdained to play the hero at the expense of his peo- 
ple, like his brother Andrew of Souzdal, who was immediately 
obliged to fly, abandoning his country to the vengeance of the 
Tatars. The Prince of Novgorod was the only prince in Russia 
who had kept his independence, but he knew Bati's hands could 
extend as far as the Ilmen. " God has subjected many peoples 
to me," wrote the barbarian to him : " will you alone refuse to 
recognize my power ? If you wish to keep your land, come to 
me ; you will see the splendor and the glory of my sway." Then 
Alexander went to Sarai with his brother Andrew, who disputed 
the Grand Principality of Vladimir with his uncle Sviatoslaf. 
Bati declared that fame had not exaggerated the merit of 
Alexander, that he far excelled the common run of Russian 
princes. He enjoined the two brothers to show themselves, 
like their father laroslaf, at the Great Horde ; they returned from 
it in 1257. Kouiouk had confirmed the one in the possession of 

Vol. 1 Russia 6 


Vladimir, and the other in that of Novgorod, adding to it all 
South Russia and Kief. 

The year 1260 put the patience of Alexander and his politic 
obedience to the Tatars to the proof. Oulavtchi, to whom the 
Khan Berkai had confided the affairs of Russia, demanded that 
Novgorod should submit to the census and pay tribute. It was 
the hero of the Neva that was charged with the humiliatinsr and 
dangerous mission of persuading Novgorod. When the possad- 
nik uttered in the vetche the doctrine that it was necessary to 
submit to the strongest, the people raised a terrible cry and 
murdered the possadnik. Vassili himself, the son of Alexander, 
declared against a father " who brought servitude to free men ;" 
and retired to the Pskovians. It needed a soul of iron temper 
to resist the universal disapprobation, and counsel the Novgoro- 
dians to the commission of the cowardly though necessary act. 
Alexander arrested his son, and punished the boyards who had 
led him into the revolt with death or mutilation. The vetch^\i2i^ 
decided to refuse the tribute, and send back the Mongol am- 
bassadors with presents. However, on the rumor of the approach 
of the Tatars, they repented, and Alexander could announce to 
the enemy that Novgorod submitted to the census. But when 
they saw the officers of the Khan at work, the population re- 
volted again, and the prince was obliged to keep guard on the 
officers night and day. In vain the boyards advised the citizens 
to give in : assembled around St. Sophia, the people declared 
they would die for liberty and honor. Alexander then threaten- 
ed to quit the city with his men, and abandon it to the vengeance 
of the Khan. This menace conquered the pride of the Novgoro- 
dians. The Mongols and their agents might go, register in 
hand, from house to house in the humiliated and silent city to 
make the list of the inhabitants. " The boyards," says Karam- 
sin, " might yet be vain of their rank and their riches, but the 
simple citizens had lost with their national honor their most 
precious possession" (1260). 

In Souzdal also Alexander found himself in the presence of 
insolent victors and exasperated subjects. In 1262 the inhab- 
itants of Vladimir, of Souzdal, of Rostof, rose against the collec- 
tors of the Tatar impost. The people of laroslavl slew a ren- 
egade named Zozimus, a former monk, who had become a Mos- 
lem fanatic. Terrible reprisals were sure to follow. Alexander 
set out with presents for the Horde at the risk of leaving his 
head there. He had likewise to excuse himself for having re- 
fused a body of auxiliary Russians to the Mongols, wishing at 
least to spare the blood and religious scruples of his subjects. 
It is a remarkable fact, that, over the most profound humilia- 


tions of the Russian nationality, the contemporary history al- 
ways throws a ray of glory. At the moment that Alexander 
went to prostrate himself at Sarai, the Souzdalian army, united 
to that of Novgorod, and commanded by his son Dmitri, defeated 
the Livonian knights, and took Dorpat by assault. The Khan 
Berkai gave Alexander a kind greeting, accepted his explana- 
tions, dispensed with the promised contingent, but kept him for 
a year near his court. The health of Alexander broke down ; 
he died on his return before reaching Vladimir. When the news 
arrived at his capital, the Metropolitan Cyril, who was finishing 
the liturgy, turned towards the faithful, and said, " Learn, my 
dear children, that the Sun of Russia is set, is dead." " We are 
lost," cried the people, breaking forth into sobs. Alexander by 
this policy of resignation, which his chivalrous heroism does not 
permit us to despise, had secured some repose for exhausted 
Russia, By his victories over his enemies of the West he had 
given her some glory, and hindered her from despairing under 
the most crushing tyranny, material and moral, which a European 
people had ever suffered. 


The Mongol khans, after having devastated and abased Rus- 
sia, did not introduce any direct political change. They left to 
each country her laws, her courts of justice, her natural chiefs. 
The house of Andrew Bogolioubski continued to reign in Souz- 
dal, that of Daniel Romanovitch in Gal itch and Volhynia, the 
Olgovitches in Tchernigof, and the descendants of Rogvolod the 
Varangian at Polotsk. Novgorod might continue to expel and 
recall her princes, and the dynasties of the South to dispute the 
throne of Kief. The Russian States found themselves under 
the Mongol yoke, in much the same situation as that of the 
Christians of the Greco-Slav peninsula three centuries later, 
under the Ottomans. The Russians remained in possession of 
all their lands, which their nomad conquerors, encamped on the 
steppes of the East and South, disdained. They were, like their 
Danubian kinsmen, a sort of rayahs, over whom the authority of 
the khans was exerted with more or less rigor, but whom their 
conquerors never tried in any way to Tatarize. Let us see ex- 
actly in what consisted the obligations of the vanquished, and 
their relations with their conquerors, during the period of the 
Mongol yoke or 2 atarchtchina. 



I. The Russian princes were forced to visit the Horde, 
either as evidence of their submission, or to give the Khan op* 
portunity of judging their disputes. We have seen how they 
had to go not only to the Khan of the Golden Horde, but often 
also to the Grand Khan at the extremity of Asia, on the borders 
of the Sakhalian or Amour. They met there the chiefs of the 
Mongol, Tatar, Thibetian and Bokharian hordes, and sometimes 
the ambassador of the Caliph of Bagdad, of the Pope, or of the 
King of France. The Grand Khans tried to play off against 
each other these ambassadors, who were astonished to meet at 
his court. Mangou Khan desired Saint Louis to recognize him 
as the master of the world, "for," said he, "when the universe 
has saluted me as sovereign, a happy tranquillity will reign on 
the earth." In the case of refusal, "neither deep seas nor inac- 
cessible mountains " would place the King of France beyond 
the power of his wrath. To the princes of Asia and Russia he 
displayed the presents of the King of France, affecting to con- 
sider them as tributes and signs of submission. " We will send 
to seek him to confound you," he said to them, and Joinville as- 
sures us that this threat, and " the fear of the King of France," 
decided many to throw themselves on his mercy. This journey 
to the Grand Horde was terrible. The road went through des- 
erts, or countries once rich, but changed by the Tatars into vast 
wastes. Few who went returned. Planus Carpinus, envoy of ■ 
Innocent IV., saw in the steppes of the Kirghiz the dry bones 
of the boyards of the unhappy laroslaf, who had died of thirst 
in the sand. Planus Carpinus thus describes the Court of Bati 
on the Volga : — " It is crowded and brilliant. His army con- 
sists of 600,000 men, 150,000 of whom are Tatars, and 450,000 
strangers, Christians as well as infidels. On Good Friday we 
were conducted to his tent, between two fires, because the Ta- 
tars pretend that a fire purifies everything, and robs even poison 
of its danger. We had to make many prostrations, and enter 
the tent without touching the threshold. Bati was on his throne 
with one of his wives ; his brothers, his children, and the Tatar 
lords were seated on benches ; the rest of the assembly were on 

the ground, the men on the right, the women on the left 

The Khan and the lords of the Court emptied from time to time 
cups of gold and silver, while the musicians made the air ring 
with their melodies. Bati has a bright complexion ; he is affa- 
ble with his men, but inspires general terror." The Court of 
the Grand Khan was still more magnificent. Planus Carpinus 
found there a Russian named Koum, who was the favorite and 
special goldsmith of Gaiouk or Kouiouk, and Rubruquis discov- 
ered a Parisian goldsmith, named Guillaume. Much money was 



needed for success, either at the Court of the Grand Khan or of 
Bati. Presents had to be distributed to the Tatar princes, to 
the favorites ; above all to the wives and the mother of the 
Khan. At this terrible tribunal the Russian princes had to 
struggle with intrigues and corruption ; the heads of the pleaders 
were often the stakes of these dreadful trials. The most clan« 
gerous enemies they encountered at the Tatar Court were not 
the barbarians, but the Russians, their rivals. The history of 
the Russian princes at the Horde is very tragic. Thus Michael 
of Tchernigof perished at the Horde of Sarai in 1246, and Mi- 
chael of Tver in 13 19, the one assassinated by the renegade 
Doman, the other by the renegade Romanetz, at the instigation 
and under the eyes of the Grand Prince of Moscow. 

2. The conquered people were obliged to pay a capitation 
tax, which weighed as heavily on the poor as on the rich. The 
tribute was paid either in money or in furs ; those who were 
unable to furnish it became slaves. The Khans had for some 
time farmed out this revenue to some Khiva merchants, who 
collected it with the utmost rigor, and whom they protected by 
appointing superior agents called baskaks, with strong guards to 
support them. The excesses of these tax-gatherers excited 
many revolts : in 1262, that of Souzdal ; in 1284, that of Koursk; 
in 13 18, that of Kolomna ; in 1327, that of Tver, where the in- 
habitants slew the baskak Chevkal, and brought down on them- 
selves frightful reprisals. Later, the princes of Moscow them- 
selves farmed not only the tax from their own subjects, but alsc 
from neighboring countries. They became the farmers-general 
of the invaders. This was the origin of their riches and their 

3. Besides the tribute, the Russians had to furnish to theii 
master the blood-tax, a military contingent. Already at the 
time of the Huns and Avars, we have seen Slavs and Goths 
accompany the Asiatic hordes, form their vanguards, and be as 
it were the hounds of Baian. In the 13th century, the Russian 
princes furnished to the Tatars select troops, especially a solid 
infantry, and marched in their armies at the head of their drou- 
jiiias. It was thus that in 1276 Boris of Rostof, Gleb of Bidlo- 
zersk, Feodor of laroslavl, and Andrew of Gorodetz followed 
Mangou Khan in a war against the tribes of the Caucasus, and 
sacked Dediakof in Daghestan, the capital of the lasses. The 
Mongols scrupulously reserved to them their part of the booty. 
The same Russian princes took part in an expedition against 
an adventurer named Lachan by the Greek historians, formerly 
a keeper of pigs, who had raised Bulgaria. The descendants 
of Monomachus behaved still more dishonorably in the troubles 


in the interior of Russia. They excited the Mongols against 
their countrymen and aided the invaders. Prince Andrew, son 
of Alexander Nevski, pillaged in 1281, in concert with the 
Tatars, the provinces of Vladimir, Souzdal, Mourom, Moscow, 
and Pereiaslavl, which he was disputing with Dmitri, his elder 
brother. He helped the barbarians to profane churches and 
convents. In 1327 it was the princes of Moscow and Souzdal 
who directed the military execution against Tver. In 1284, two 
Olgovitches reigned in the land of Koursk ; one of them, Oleg, 
put the other to death in the name of the Khan. Servitude had 
so much abased all characters, that even the annalists share the 
general degradation. They blame, not Oleg the murderer, but 
Sviatoslaf the victim. Was it not his unbridled conduct that 
caused the anger of the Khan .? 

4. No prince could ascend the throne without having received 
the investiture and the iarlikh, or letters patent, from the Khan. 
The proud Novgorodians themselves rejected Michael, their 
prince, saying, " It is true we have chosen Michael, but on the 
condition that he should show us the iarlikh." 

4. No Russian State dared to make war without being 
authorized to do so. In 1269 the Novgorodians asked leave to 
march against Revel. In 1303, in an assembly of princes, and 
in the presence of the Metropolitan Maximus, a decree of the 
Khan Tokhta was read, enjoining the princes to put an end to 
their dissensions, and to content themselves with their appan- 
ages, it being the will of the Grand Khan that the Grand Princi- 
pality should enjoy peace. When the Mongol ambassadors 
brought a letter from their sovereign, the Russian princes were 
obliged to meet them on foot, prostrate themselves, spread 
precious carpets under their feet, present them with a cup filled 
with gold pieces, and listen, kneeling, while the iarlikh was 

Even while the Tatars conquered the Russians, they respected 
their bravery. Matrimonial alliances were contracted between 
their princes. About 1272, Gleb, prince of Bielozersk, took a 
wife out the Khan's family, which already professed Christianity, 
and Feodor of Riazan became the son-in-law of the Khan of the 
Nogais, who assigned to the young couple a palace in Sarai. In 
13 18 the Grand Prince George married Kontchaka, sister of 
Uzbeck Khan, who was baptized by the name of Agatha. To- 
wards the end of the 14th century, the Tatars were no longer 
the rude shepherds of the steppes. Mingled with sedentary 
and more cultivated races, they rebuilt fresh cities on the ruins 
of those they had destroyed ; Krym in the Crimea, Kazan, 
Astrakhan, and Sarai. They had acquired a taste for luxury and 


magnificence, honored the national poets who sang their ex- 
ploits, piqued themselves on their chivalry and even on their 
gallantry. Notwithstanding the difference of religion, a recon- 
ciliation was taking place between the aristocracy of the two 
countries, between the Russian kniazes and the Tatar mourzas. 

The Russian historians are not entirely agreed as to the 
nature and degree of influence exerted by the Mongol yoke on 
the Russian development. Karamsin and M. Kostomarof be- 
lieve it to have been considerable. " Perhaps," says the former 
" our national character still presents some blots which are 
derived from the Mongol barbarism." M. Solovief, on the 
contrary, affirms that the Tatars hardly influenced it more than 
the Patzinaks or Polovtsi. M. Bestoujef-Rioumine estimates 
the influence to have been specially exerted on the financial ad- 
ministration and military organization. On one side the Tatars 
established the capitation-tax, which has remained in the financial 
system of Russia ; on the other, the conquered race had a 
natural tendency to adopt the military system of the victors. The 
Russian or Mongol princes formed a caste of soldiers hence- 
forth quite distinct from Western chivalry, to which the Russian 
heroes of the 12th century belonged. The warriors of Daniel 
of Galitch, it is said, astounded the Poles and Hungarians by 
the Oriental character of their equipment. Short stirrups, very 
high saddles, a long caftan or floating dress, a sort of turban 
surmounted by an aigret, sabres and poniards in their belts, a 
bow and arrows — such was the military costume of a Russian 
prince of the 15th century. 

On the other side, many of the peculiarities in which the 
Mongol influence is thought traceable may be attributed as well 
or better to purely Slav traditions, or imitations of Byzantine 
manners. If the Muscovite princes inclined to autocracy, it 
was not that they formed themselves on the model of the Grand 
Khan, but that they naturally adopted imperial ideas of absolu- 
tism imported from Constantinople. It is always the Roman 
Emperor of Tzargrad, and not the leader of Asiatic shepherds, 
who is their typical monarch. If from this time the Russian 
penal law makes more frequent use of the pain of death and 
corporal punishment, it is not only the result of imitation of the 
Tatars, but of the evergrowing influence of Byzantine laws, and 
the progressive triumph of their principles over those of the an- 
cient code of laroslaf. Now these laws so very easily admitted 
torture, flogging, mutilation, the stake, tS^c, that there is no need 
to explain anything by Mongol usages. The habit of prostration, 
of beating the forehead, of affecting the servile submission, is 
certainly Oriential, but it is also Byzantine. The seclusion of 

128 HIS Ton Y OF R USSIA . 

women was customary in ancient Russia, moulded by Greek 
missionaries, and the Russian terem proceeds more certainly 
from the Hellenic gynceceum than from the Oriental harem ; all 
the more because the Tatar women, before the conversion of the 
Mongols to Islamism, do not appear to have been secluded. If 
the Russians of the 17th century seem strange to us in their 
long robes and Oriental fashions, we must remember that the 
French and Italians of the 15th century, dressed by Venetian 
merchants, displayed the same taste. Only in France fashions 
made advances, while in Russia, isolated from the rest of Europe 
they remained stationary. 

From a social point of view, two Russian expressions seem 
to date from the Tatar invasion : icherne, or the black people, to 
designate the lower orders ; and krestianifie, signifying the peas- 
ant, that is, the Christian par excellence, who was always a 
stranger to the Mongol customs adopted for a short time by the 
aristocracy. As to the amount of Mongol or Tatar blood mixed 
with the blood of the Russians, it must have been very small : 
the aristocracy of the two countries may have contracted mar- 
riages, a certain number of mourzas may have become Russian 
princes by their conversion to orthodoxy, but the two races, as a 
whole, remained strangers. Even to-day, while the autochtho- 
nous Finns continue to be Russified, the Tatar cantons, even 
though converted to Christianity, are still Tatar. 

If the Mongol yoke has influenced the Russian development, 
it is very indirectly, i. In separating Russia from the West, in 
making her a political dependency of Asia, it perpetuated in the 
country that Byzantine half civilization whose inferiority to 
European civilization became daily more obvious. If the Rus- 
sians of the 17th century differ so much from Western nations, it 
is above all because they have remained at the point whence all 
set out. 2. The Tatar conquest also favored indirectly the es- 
tablishment of absolute power. The Muscovite princes, respon- 
sible to the Khan for the public tranquillity and the collection of 
the tax, being all the while watched and supported by the baskaks, 
could the more easily annihilate the independence of the towns, 
the resistance of the second order of princes, the turbulence of 
the boyards, and the privileges of the free peasants. The 
Grand Prince of Moscow had no consideration for his subjects 
because no man had any consideration for him, and be- 
cause his life was always at stake. The Mongol tyranny bore 
with a frightful weight on all the Russian hierarchy, and sub- 
jected more closely the nobles to the princes, and the peasants to 
the nobles. " The princes of Moscow," says Karamsin, " took 
the humble title of servants of the khans, and it was by this 



means that they became powerful monarchs." No doubt the 
Russian principalities would always have ended by losing them- 
selves in the same dominion, but Russian unity would have been 
made, like French unity, without the entire destruction of local 
autonomies, the privileges of the towns, and the rights of the 
subjects. It was the crushing weight of the Mongol domination 
that stifled all the germs of political liberty. We may say with 
Mr. Wallace, that " the first Tzars of Muscovy were the political 
descendants, not of the Russian princes, but of the Tatar khans." 
3. A third indirect result of the conquest was the growth of the 
power and riches of the Church. In spite of the saintly legends 
about the martyrdom of certain princes, the Tatars were a toler- 
ant nation. Rubruquis saw in the presence of the Grand Khan 
Mangou, Nestorians, Mussulmans, and Shamans celebrating 
their own particular worships. 

Kouiouk had a Christian chapel near his palace ; KhoubilaS 
regularly took part in the feast of Easter. In 1261 the Khan of 
Sarai authorized the erection of a church and orthodox bishopric 
in his capital. The Mongols had no sectarian hatred against 
bishops and priests. With a sure political instinct, the Tatars, 
like the Sultans of Stamboul, understood that these men could 
agitate or calm the people. After the first fury of the conquest 
was passed, they applied themselves to gaining them over. 
They excepted priests and monks from the capitation-tax ; they 
received them well at the Horde, and gave pardons at their in- 
tei-cession. They settled disputes of orthodox prelates, and es- 
tablished the peace in the Church that they imposed on the 
State. In 13 13 the Khan Uzbeck, at the prayer of Peter, Met- 
ropolitan of Moscow, confirmed the privileges of the Church 
and forbade her being deprived of her goods, " for," says the 
edict, "these possessions are sacred, because they belong to 
men whose prayers preserve our lives and strengthen our armies." 
The right of justice in the Church was formally recognized. 
Sacrilege was punished by death. 

The convents also increased in numbers and riches. They 
filled enormously : were they not the safest asylums ? Their peas- 
ants and servants multiplied : was not the protection of the Church 
the surest .-• Gifts of land were showered on them, as in France in 
the year 1000. It was thus that the great ecclesiastical patri- 
mony of Russia, a wealthy reservoir of revenues and capital, 
was constituted, on which more than once in national crises the 
Russian sovereigns were glad to draw. The Church, which, 
even in her weakness, had steadily tended to unity and autoc- 
racy, was to place at the service of the crown a power which 
had become enormous. The Metropolitans of Moscow were 
nearly always the faithful allies of the Grand Princes. 




The Lithuanians — Conquests of Mindvog (1240-1263), of Gedimin (131s-' 
1340), and of Olgerd (1345-1377) — Jagellon — Union of Lithuania with Po. 
land (1386) — The Grand Prince Vitovt (1392-1430J — Battles of the Vorskla 
(1399), and of Tannenberg (1410). 

GEDIMIN (13 15-1340), AND OF OLGERD (1345-1377). 

The Lithuanian tribes had already been greatly broken up 
by the German conquest. Russians, Korsi, Semigalli, and Letts 
had been brought into subjection either by the Teutonic or 
Livonian knights. Two among the tribes, the Jmouds and the 
Lithuanians properly so called, had preserved in the deep forests 
and marshes of the Niemen their proud independence, their fero- 
city, and their ancient gods. A Russian tradition affirms that 
they formerly had paid the Russians the only tribute their poverty 
could afford — bark and brooms. Jmouds and Lithuanians were 
divided, like the ancient Slavs, into rival and jealous tribes. Al- 
though more than once they marched from their forests, blowing 
long trumpets, careering on rough ponies — though they had 
made many incursions into the Russian territory — they were 
not really dangerous. This old Aryan people, whom European 
influences had never modified, had preserved from the time they 
d'.velt in Asia a powerful sacerdotal caste, — the vdidelotes above 
whom were the krivites, whose chief, the krive-kriveito, was high- 
priest of the nation. Their principal divinity was Perkun, the 
god of thunder, analogous to the Perun of the Russians. The 
sacred fire, the znitch, burned constantly before this idol. They 
had also priestesses, the wild Velledas, like that Birouta who, 
captured by Kestout, became the mother of the great Vitovt. 
The time had come when the Lithuanians must perish like the 
Prussians or Letts, if they did not succeed in uniting against 
Germany. The emigrants from the countries already conquered 
would doubtless lend them new strength and energy. A wily 


barbarian, Mindvog, created Lithuanian unity at the beginning 
of the 13th century in much the same way as Clovis — by ex- 
terminating the princes. " He began," says a chronicle, " by 
slaying his brothers and his sons, chased the survivors from the 
country, and reigned alone over the land of Lithuania." Thence 
he led his savage warriors against the Russian principalities, 
now enfeebled by the Mongol invasions, and conquered Grodno 
and Novogrodek. Happily Western Russia had two great men 
at its head, Alexander Nevski and Daniel of Volhynia. Threat- 
ened on one side by these princes, on the other by the knights 
of Livonia, the Lithuanians bethought themselves of hastening 
to the Pope and embracing ihe Catholic faith. A legate of In- 
nocent IV. and the landmeister of the Teutonic Order came to 
Grodno, escorted by a brilliant suite of cavaliers. In presence 
of an immense concourse of people, Mindvog received baptism 
with his wife, and was consecrated King of Lithuania (1252). 
The danger passed, and Rome was forgotten. He and his new 
co-religionists did not agree, and he was forced to cede the 
Jmoud country to the Livonian knights. Sharing the irritation 
of his subjects, he washed off his baptism as the unfortunate 
Livonians had done, re-established paganism, invaded Mazovia, 
ravaged the lands of the Order, and defeated the lafidmeister in 
person. He had taken the wife of one of his princes named 
Dovmont, and had married her. Dovmont awaited him on 
the road, and assassinated him (1263), and then fled from 
the vengeance of Mindvog's son to the Pskovians. He 
became their prince, was baptized, and defended them 
bravely against his pagan compatriots till he died, and 
was buried at the church of the Trinity. Voichel, son of 
Mindvog, in the first fervor of an ephemeral Christianity, had 
become a monk. When he heard of the murder of his father, he 
threw his cowl to the winds, and began a war of extermination 
with the confederates. Lithuania fell back into anarchy during 
the contest of the descendants of Mindvog with the rest of the 
princes who refused to accept their supremacy. 

She recovered herself under the enterprising and energetic 
Gedimin (13 15-1340), the real founder of her power. He 
turned the exhaustion and divisions of South Russia to his own 
profit ; and to the conquests of his predecessors — Grodno, 
Pinsk, Brest, and Polotsk — soon added Tchernigof, and all 
Volhynia with Vladimir, under whose walls he defeated the 
Russians, aided though they were by an auxiliary army of Ta- 
tars (132 1). As to Kief, it is not known in what year she fell 
under his power ; in the universal disorder, this memorable 
event passed almost unnoticed. The old capital of Russia was, 


however, destined to remain for 400 j'ears — up to the time of 
Alexis Romanof — in the hands of strangers. The Russian pop- 
ulations willingly received this new master, who would free 
them from the heavy yoke of the Mongols and the unceasing 
civil wars. As he respected their internal constitution and the 
rights of the orthodox clergy, it appears that many towns readily 
opened their gates to him. Gedimin sought to legalize his con- 
quests by contracting alliances with the house of St. Vladimir, 
allowed his sons to embrace the orthodox faith, and authorized 
the construction of Greek churches in his residences at Wilna 
and Novogrodek. In the North he had a perpetual struggle to 
sustain against the deadly enemies of his race, the military 
monks of Prussia and Livonia. Like Mindvog, he addressed 
himself to the Pope, John XXIL, and informed him that he 
wished to preserve his independence, that he only asked pro- 
tection for his religion, that he was surrounded by Fran* 
ciscans and Dominicans to whom he gave full liberty to 
teach their doctrine, and that he was ready to recognize the 
Pope as supreme head of the Church, if he would arrest the dep- 
redations of the Germans. The French Pope sent him Bar- 
tholomew, Bishop of Alais, and Bernard, Abbot of Puy. In the 
interval he had been exasperated by renewed attacks of the 
Teutonic knights, and forced the two legates to fly. He had 
transferred his capital to Wilna on the Wilia, and the ruins of 
his castle may still be perceived on the height which overlooks 
the citadel. He drew thither by immunities German artists and 
artisans, and granted them the rights of Riga and the 
Hanseatic towns. A Russian quarter was also formed in 
his capital. He died and was buried according to the pagan 
rite : his body was burned in a caldron with his war-horse and 
his favorite groom. 

After his death his sons Olgerd (1345-1377) and Kestout de- 
prived two of their brothers of their appanages, and together 
governed Lithuania, now re-united into a single State. Olgerd 
humiliated Novgorod the Great, which had received another of 
his fugitive brothers, ravaged her territory, and forced her to 
put to death the possadnik who had been the cause of the war. 
He extended his possessions to the east and south, and con- 
quered Vitepsk, Mohilef, Briansk, Novgorod-Severski, Kamenetz 
and Podolia ; thus rendering himself master of nearly all the 
basin of the Dnieper, and obtaining a footing on the coast of 
the Black Sea, between the mouths of the Dnieper and the 
Dniester. With the republic of Pskof he maintained relations 
sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile ; gave her help against 
the Germans, and sent his son Andrew to govern her, and oc« 


casionally arrested her merchants and laid waste her territory. 
The Poles disputed Volhynia with him, oppressed the orthodox 
faith, and changed the Greek into Latin churches. Olgerd then 
made advances to Simeon the Proud, Grand Prince of Moscow, 
and, though a pagan, married Juliana, princess of Tver. Under 
Simeon's successors the Lithuanian army three times took the 
road to Moscow, and, without the check imposed on him by the 
Poles and the two German orders, Olgerd might have made the 
conquest of Eastern Russia. In 1368 he had annihilated the 
Mongol hordes which infested the Lower Dnieper, and, more 
destructive than even these barbarians, completed the ruin of 
Cherson in the Crimea. 


Although Olgerd had reconstituted the Lithuanian unity, he 
fell back into the old error, and divided his States between his 
sons and his brother, the brave Kestout, who had been his faith- 
ful associate. One of his sons, lagailo or Jagellon (1377-1434), 
cruelly repaired the fault of his father. He made his uncle 
Kestout prisoner by treachery, and caused him to be put to 
death. His brothers and cousins escaped a similar fate by fly- 
ing to neighboring states. In spite of this the bloody pagan 
was the Apostle of Lithuania. For a long while Christianity 
had sought to penetrate by two different channels, — under the 
Latin form from Poland, and under the Greek form from Russia. 
The fierce war sustained by the Lithuanians against the military 
monks of the North had rendered Catholicism particularly hate- 
ful to them. Under Olgerd the people of Wilna had risen, and 
fourteen Franciscans were slain. On the other side the larger 
part of the Lithuanian conquests was composed of Russian ter- 
ritory, and Lithuania underwent the influence of the Russian 
religion as well as of the Russian language. Russian became 
the official tongue ; it even seemed as if orthodoxy was to be- 
come the ruling faith, and the victors were to be absorbed by 
the vanquished, and Russified by their conquest. An unexpected 
event turned the natural course of history. The Angevin and 
French dynasty in Poland had lately been extinguished in the 
person of Louis of Hungary, whose only heir was his daughter 
Hedwiga. The Polish nobles felt that the best way of putting 
a stop to the eternal warfare with the Lithuanians was by marry- 
ing their queen to the powerful Prince of Wilna. The heart of 
Hedwiga is said to have been elsewhere engaged; but the 
Catholic clergy set forth her consent to this union as a duly, tire 



fulfilment of which was to insure in Lithuania proper the triumph 
of the Latin faith, and thus to separate it from the Lithuanian 
Russian provinces which still remained orthodox. 

In 1386 Jagellon went to Cracow and received baptism and 
the crown of Poland. 

The conversion of the Lithuanians was then conducted after 
a fashion as summary as that of the Russians in the time of Vladi- 
mir. They were divided into groups, and the priest then sprin- 
kled them with holy water, pronouncing, as he did so, a name 
of the Latin Calendar. To one group he gave the name of 
Peter, to another that of Paul or John. Jagellon overthrew the 
idol Perkun, extinguished the sacred fire that burned in the castle 
of Wilna, killed the holy serpents, and cut down the magic 
woods. The people, however, worshipped their gods for some 
time longer; like the Northmen who were converted by the 
Carolingians, many Lithuanians presented themselves more than 
once to be baptized, in order to receive again and again the 
white tunic of the neophyte. By transferring his capital to 
Cracow, in deference to his new subjects, Jagellon necessarily 
irritated his old subjects. To the determined pagans the ortho- 
dox allied themselves, provoked by the king's propaganda in 
favor of Catholicism. Lithuania believed that by her union with 
Poland she had forfeited her independence. 


Vitovt, son of the hero Kestout and the priestess Birouta, 
put himself at the head of the malcontents. He allied himself 
with the Teutonic knights, and twice besieged the Polish garri- 
son in the Castle of Wilna. Weary of war, Jagellon ended by 
ceding him Lithuania with the title of Grand Prince (1392). 

Vitovt (1392-1430), brother-in-law of the Grand Prince of 
Moscow (Vassili Dmitrievitch), took up the plans of Olgerd for 
the subjugation of the north-east of Russia. Sviatoslaf, the last 
prince but one of Smolensk, had made himself hated, even in 
that iron century, by his cruelties. Fighting in the Russian ter- 
ritory, he took pleasure in impaling and burning alive women 
and children. He was killed in 1387 in a battle against the 
Lithuanians, and his son loury was only the shadow of a Grand 
Prince of Smolensk, under the guardianship of Vitovt. The 
latter, who combined perfidy with the courage and energy of his 
father, made himself master of the town by a stratagem worthy 
of Caesar Borgia. He contrived to induce the prince and his 


brothers to visit him in his tent, embraced and pressed them in 
his arms, and then declared them prisoners of war, while his 
army surprised and pillaged Smolensk. This queenly city on 
the Upper Dneiper was lost to Russia. The Lithuanian Em- 
pire now bordered on the ancient Souzdal and the principality 
of Riazan. These two countries, with Novgorod and Pskof, 
were the only ones which had preserved their independence. 
It seemed as if one campaign would suffice to annihilate the 
Russian name. But Vitovt cherished great projects, in which 
the conquest of Moscow was only an incident. He had already 
fought against the Mongols, and with the prisoners taken in the 
environs of Azof, had peopled many villages round Wilna, where 
their posterity still exist. He took under his protection the 
Khan Tokhtamych, whom Timour Koutloui" had expelled from 
Sarai, and resolved to subjugate the Golden Horde, to instal a 
vassal there, and finally add to the conquest of the Tatar Em- 
pire that of Moscow and Riazan. The army that he assembled 
under the walls of Kief was perhaps the most important that 
had marched against the infidels since the first crusade. To 
his Lithuanian troops he had united the Polish contingent sent 
by Jagellon under the famous voievodes Spitko of Cracow, John 
of Mazovia, Sandivog of Ostorog, Dobrogost of Samotoul, and the 
droujinas of the Russian princes, Gleb of Smolensk, Michael 
and Dmitri of Volhynia, the Mongols of Tokhtamych, and five 
hundred knights, " iron men," richly armed, sent by the Grand 
Master of the Teutonic Order, He came up with the enemy 
on the banks of the Vorskla, an affluent of the Dnieper, that 
runs near Pultowa. It was almost the battle-field where fought 
in 1709 the heroes of the North. To Timour's proposals of 
peace, Vitovt answered that God had designed him to be mas- 
ter of the world, and that the Khan must recognize him as 
his father, pay him tribute, and place his armorial bearings on 
the Mongol coins. The Khan only negotiated to gain time 
till the bulk of the Tatar army, commanded by Ediger, came 
up. Ediger, in his turn, ironically summoned Vitovt to ac- 
knowledge him as father, and to place his arms on the Lithu- 
anian coins. Vitovt, who hoped to make up for his deficiency 
in numbers by his artillery, gave the signal for battle. A 
manoeuvre of the Tatars on the rear of the enemy assured 
them the victory. Two-thirds of the Lithuanian army, with 
the princes of Smolensk and Volhynia, remained on the field 
of battle. The remnant was pursued by Timour to the Dnieper. 
He levied war contributions on Kief and the Monastery of 
the Catacombs (1399). So fell the prestige of Vitovt. Even 
the princes of Riazan thought that they might safely insult 



his frontiers. But he was still formidable, and the Grand Prince 
of Moscow, after having tried to attack him, judged it more 
prudent to make peace. 

When Vitovt began to recover from his disaster, he directed 
a still more famous expedition against the Teutonic knights. 
The Grand Prince of Lithuania had more than once found 
himself at issue with the two German orders. About this time 
the Teutonic knights had lost their early energy, thanks to the 
development of the system of fiefs, and to the progress of the 
commercial towns. In 1409 the Jmouds and Oriental Prussia, 
after having protested against the severity of the yoke imposed 
on them, revolted, counting on Vitovt to support them. A new 
Grand Master, the warlike Ulrich of Jungingen, refused the 
mediation of Vitovt's suzerain, the King of Poland. Upon this 
the united forces of Poland and Lithuania, with 40,000 Tatars 
and 21,000 Bohemian, Hungarian, Moravian and Silesian mer- 
cenaries, making a total of 97,000 infantry, 66,000 cavalry, and 
60 cannons, entered Prussia. The Grand Master had only 57,- 
000 infantry and 26,000 cavalry, with which to oppose them. 
The battle of Tannenberg (1410), gained chiefly by Vitovt, who 
broke the German centre and left wing, was a blow from which 
the power of the Teutonic Order never recovered. The Grand 
Master and nearly all the high dignitaries, 200 Knights of the 
Order, and 400 foreign knights, besides 4000 soldiers, were 
killed. Nearly all the princes of Western Russia took part in 
the combat, and the contingent of Smolensk especially distin- 
guished itself. The Jmoud country was freed from the Teutonic 
rule and united to Lithuania. 

Three years afterwards (1413) the Congress of Horodlo on 
the Bug, between Jagellon, accompanied by the Polish /a«j, and 
Vitovt, accompanied by his Lithuanian chiefs, took place. It 
was settled that the Lithuanian Catholics should receive the 
rights and privileges of the Polish schliachta ; and that the 
representatives of the two countries should unite in a common 
diet to elect the Kings of Poland and the Grand Dukes of 
Lithuania, and decide important affairs. Vitovt soon had dif- 
ferences with his own subjects : the Jmouds, so refractory under 
the Teutonic rule, were pagans and Lithuanians at heart. They 
hated Catholicism and the Polish domination. They rose and 
expelled the monks. Vitovt could only govern them by force. 

The Russian provinces of Lithuania were orthodox, and de- 
pended upon the Metropolitan of Moscow. Vitovt wished ts 
shake off his religious supremacy, and demanded of the Patriarch 
of Constantinople a special metropolitan for Western Russia. 
In spite of the Patriarch's refusal, he convoked a council if 



orthodox prelates : a learned Bulgarian monk, Gregory Tsam. 
blak, was elected Metropolitan of Kief. Thus Russia had two 
religious chiefs, as she had two Grand Princes — the Metropolitan 
of Eastern Russia, and the Metropolitan of Western Russia; 
one at Moscow, the other at Kief. Vitovt also wished to free 
himself on the western side, and deprive Poland of her suprem- 
acy over Lithuania. In 1429 he had an interview with the 
Emperor Sigismond, who promised to create him King of 
Lithuania. Vitovt, then eighty years of age, was at the height 
of his power. We see him at the fetes of Troki and Wilna, at- 
tended by his grandson Vassili Vassilidvitch, Grand Prince of 
Moscow, who was accompanied by the Muscovite Metropolitan 
Photius, the Princes of Tver and Riazan, Jagellon, king of Poland, 
the Khan of the Crimea, the exiled Hospodar of Wallachia, the 
Grand Master of Prussia, the Landmeister of Livonia, and the 
ambassadors of the Emperor of the East. Daily were 700 oxen, 
1400 sheep, and game in proportion, consumed. In the midst 
of these fetes the ambitious old man had to swallow a bitter 
draught. The Poles had intrigued with the Pope, and he was 
forbidden to dream of royalty. The ambassadors of Sigismond 
were checked as they were bringing him the sceptre and the 
crown. Vitovt fell ill, and died of disappointment (1430). 

After this Lithuania ceased to be formidable. We find it in 
turns governed by a Grand Duke of its own, united to Poland 
under Vladislas, separated again, then definitely placed under 
the Polish sceptre from 150T. Though henceforward it always 
had the same sovereign as Poland, it remained a State apart — 
the Grand Principality or Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Her 
Lithuanian and Russian provinces became steadily Polish, and 
the princely descendants of Rurik and St. Vladimir, or of 
Mindvog and Gedimin, assumed the manners and language of 
the Polish aristocracy. 




RUSSIA (1303-1462). 

Origin of Moscow — Daniel — George Danielovitch ( 1303-1325) and Ivan Kalita 
(132S-1341) — Contest with the house of Tver — Simeon the f-rouci and 
Ivan the Debonnaire (1341-1359) — Dmitri Donskoi ( 1363-1389) — liattle of 
Koulikovo — Vassili Dmitrievitch and Vassili the Blind (1389-1462), 


Whilst Western Russia grouped herself around the Lithu- 
anian State, which had given the conquered Russian provinces 
a new capital in Wilna, and soon involved them in her own 
union with Poland, Eastern Russia grouped herself around 
Moscow. When this double concentration on the Moskowa 
and on the Wilna should be accomplished, Great Russia, proud 
of her national and religious unity, and Lithuanian Russia (or 
rather a foreign State composed of the Russian, Lithuanian, and 
Polish races, and of three religions, the Greek, Roman, and 
Protestant, besides the Jewish), would find themselves face to 
face. The contest of these two sister-enemies will fill many 
centuries of the history of the North. To other sovereigns, in 
other centuries, will fall the task of reconstituting the Russian 
unity in its fullest extent. The honor of the princes of Mos- 
cow is to have created the living germ which became Great 

Around Moscow, under the Mongol yoke, a race was formed, 
patient and resigned, yet energetic and enterprising, born to 
endure bad fortune and profit by good, which in the long run 
was to get the upper hand over Western Russia and Lithuania. 
There a dynasty of princes grew, politic and persevering, pru- 
dent and pitiless, of gloomy and terrible mien, whose foreheads 
were marked by the seal of fatality. They were the founders of 
the Russian empire, as the Capetians were of the French mon- 

The means used by the sovereigns of Russia were very 



different. Here we shall find no sympathetic figures like that 
of Louis VI. careering proudly in the narrow domains of France, 
capturing rebel castles in the face of the sun — of a Louis IX., 
true mirror of chivalry, the noblest incarnation of the kingly 
ideal. The princes of Moscow gained their ends by intrigue, 
corruption, the purchase of consciences, servility to the khans, 
perfidy to their equals, murder, and treachery. They were at 
once the tax-gatherers and the police of the khans. But they 
created the germ of the Russian monarchy, and made it grow. 
Henceforward we have a fixed centre around which gathers that 
scattered history of Russia which we have had to follow in so 
many different places — in Novgorod and Pskof, in Livonia and 
in Lithuania, at Smolensk and in Gallicia, at Tchernigof and 
at Kief, at Vladimir and at Riazan. The mutilation of Russia, 
conquered on the west by the Lithuanians, enslaved on the east 
by the Mongols, was to facilitate the work of organization. In 
this diminished fatherland the sovereigns of Moscow could play 
more easily the part of Grand Princes. 

The extent of country whicli had by the middle of the 15th 
century escaped the Lithuanian conquest was very small. With- 
out counting Smolensk, whose days were numbered, there re- 
mained the following principalities : — i. Riazan, with its appan- 
ages of Pronsk and Pereiaslavl-Riazanski ; 2. Souzdal, with the 
towns of Vladimir, Nijni-Novgorod, Souzdal, Galitch in Souzdal, 
Kostroma, and Gorodetz ; 3. Tver, situated on the Upper Volga, 
and chiefly made up of bailiwicks taken from Novgorod by the 
Grand Princes of Souzdal, with the towns of Rjef, Kachine, and 
Zoubtsof ; 4. Moscow, shut in on the north by Tver, on the east 
by Souzdal, on the south by Riazan, nearly stifled by its power- 
ful neighbors, like the France of the Capetians between the 
formidable States of English Normandy, Flanders, and Cham- 

The name of Moscow appears for the first time in the chron- 
icles at the date of 1147. It is there said that the Grand Prince 
George Dolgorouki, having arrived on the domain of a boyard 
named Stephen Koutchko, caused him to be put to death on 
some pretext, and that, struck by the position of one of the 
villages situated on a height washed by the Moskowa, the very 
spot whereon the Kremlin now stands, he built the city of Mos- 
cow. In the Capitol of ancient Rome the founder, Romulus, dis- 
covered the head of a man ; the Capitol of Moscow, destined to 
become the centre of an empire, was sprinkled in its beginning 
by human blood. The name of a still-existing church, " St. 
Saviour of the Pines " {Spass na Borou), preserves the memory 
of the thick forests that then clothed both banks of the Moskowa, 


on the space now covered by an immense capital. During the 
century following its foundation, Moscow remained an obscure 
and insignificant village of Souzdal. The chroniclers do not 
allude to it except to mention that it was burned by the Tatars 
(1237), or that a brother of Alexander Nevski, Michael of Mos- 
cow, was killed there in a battle with the Lithuanians. The real 
founder of the principality of the name was Daniel, a son of 
Alexander Nevski, who had received this small town and a few 
villages as his appanage. He mcreased his State by an impor- 
tant town, Perdiaslavl-Zaliesski, that belonged to one of his 
nephews, and by the addition of Kolomna, which he took from 
the Riazanese. At his death in 1303 he was the first to be 
buried in the church of Saint Michael the Archangel, which 
till the time of Peter the Great remained the burying-place of 
the Russian princes. He was followed, in due course, by his 
brothers George and Ivan. 


The first act of George Danielovitch (1303-1325) was to capt- 
ure Mojaisk from the Prince of Smolensk, and to take the latter 
prisoner. Almost at the same time began the bloody struggle 
with the house of Tver, which, transmitted from father to son, 
lasted for eighty years. When Andrew Alexandrovitch, Grand 
Prince of Souzdal, died in 1304, two competitors presented 
themselves — Michael of Tver, cousin-german of the deceased, 
and his nephew George of Moscow. The claim of Michael was 
incontestable ; was he not the eldest oi the family ? The boyards 
of Vladimir and the citizens of Novgorod did not hesitate to 
acknowledge him as Grand Prince ; at Sarai Tokhta the khan 
declared in his favor, and ordered him to be installed. Michael, 
who had on his side the national law and the sovereign will of 
the Mongols, could also use force ; he twice besieged Moscow, 
and obliged the son of Daniel to leave him in peace. In this 
young man he had an implacable enemy. The chronicles, in- 
dignant at the revolt of George against the old hereditary cus- 
tom, unanimously pronounced against him. While making due 
allowance for their efforts to blacken his character, we cannot 
help seeing that he was not a man to shrink from any crime. 
His father had taken the Prince of Riazan prisoner. He had 
him assassinated in his dungeon, and would have taken posses- 
sion of his territories, if the Khan had not ordered the rights of 
the young heir to be respected. Then George caused himself to 

HIS TOR Y OF R US SI A. 1 4 1 

be recognized as Prince of Novgorod, to the prejudice of 
Michael, but the army of Tver and Vladimir defeated that fur- 
nished him by the republic. An unexpected event suddenly 
changed the face of things. The Khan Tokhta died ; George 
managed to gain the good graces of his successor Uzbeck, so 
that the latter gave him his sister Lontchaka in marriage, and, 
reversing the decision of Tokhta, adjudged him the grand princi- 
pality. The son of Daniel returned to Russia with a Mongol 
army, commanded by the baskak Kavgadi. Michael consented, 
say the chronicles, to cede Vladimir, if his hereditary appanage 
were respected ; but George began to lay waste the country of 
Tver, and war was inevitable. Michael triumphed completely. 
The Tatar wife of George, his brother Boris, the Mongol general 
Kavgadi, and nearly all the officers of the Khan, fell into his 
hands. Michael covered his prisoners with attentions dictated 
by prudence. Kavgadi, released wiih honor, swore to be his 
friend, but, as the sister of the Khan died, the enemies of the 
Prince of Tver set on foot a report that he had poisoned her. 
The cause of the two princes was carried before the tribunal of 
the Khan. Whilst the indefatigable Muscovite went in person, 
with his hands full of presents, to the Horde, Michael had the 
imprudence to send his son, a boy of twelve years old, in his 
place. Finding George was occupied in accusing, intriguing, 
and corrupting, Michael at last made up his mind to follow him. 
Not unprepared for the lot that awaited him, he made his will, 
and distributed appanages among his children. He was accused 
of having drawn his sword against a baskak^ envoy of the Khan, 
and of having poisoned Kontchaka. These accusations were so 
manifestly absurd, that Uzbeck deferred judgment. This, how- 
ever, did not meet George's views, and, by means of intrigues, 
he obtained the arrest of his kinsman. The Khan now set out 
for some months' hunting in the Caucasus. Michael was dragged 
in the train of the court, loaded with irons, from the Sarai to 
Dediakof in Daghestan. One day he was put in the pillory in 
the market of a thickly-populated town, and the spectators 
crowded to see him, saying, " This prisoner was, a short time ago, 
a powerful prince in his own country." The boyards of Michael 
had told him to escape ; he refused, not wishing his people to 
suffer for him. George was so energetic, and scattered about so 
much money, that, finally, the death-warrant was signed. One 
of Michael's pages entered the tent which served him as a pri- 
son, in great alarm, to tell him that George and Kavgadi were 
approaching, followed by a multitude of people. " I know the 
reason," replied the prince ; and he sent his young son Constan- 
tine to one of the Khan's wives, who had promised to take him 



under her protection. His two enemies took their stand neat 
his tent, dismissed the boyards of Tver, and sent their hired 
ruffians to assassinate the prince. They threw him down, and 
trampled him under their feet. As in the case of Michael of 
Tchernigof, it was not a Mongol that stabbed him and tore out 
his heart, but a renegade named Romanetz. When George and 
Kavgadi entered and contemplated the naked corpse, " What," 
said the Tatar, " will you allow the body of your uncle to be out- 
raged ? " One of George's servants threw a mantle over the 
victim (13 19). Michael was bewailed by the Tverians. His 
body, incorruptible as that of a martyr, was afterwards deposited 
in a silver bier in the cathedral of Tver. He became a saint, 
and the patron of his city. On the walls of the cathedral, 
ancient and m<jdern pictures recall his martyrdom, and condemn 
the crime of the Muscovite. All the contemporary chronicles 
warmly take his part against the assassin. Karamsin has made 
himself the echo of their apologies and curses. But at the same 
time that Michael became a saint, George became the all-power- 
ful sovereign of Moscow, Souzdal, and Novgorod. The tragic 
fate of Michael foretold the ruin of Tver. 

Some years afterwards, things were reversed at the Horde. 
Dmitri of the terrible eyes, son of the unhappy Michael, obtained 
the title of Grand Prince, and the baskak Seventch Bonga was 
charged to place him on the throne of Vladimir. George found 
himself obliged to go again to Sarai ; there the two rivals, Dmitri 
of Tver and George of Moscow, met. Dmitri had his father to 
avenge ; his sword leaped from the scabbard, and the Prince of 
Moscow fell mortally wounded (1325). All that his friends 
could obtain was that Dmitri shotvld be put to death. The 
latter was succeeded in Vladimir by his brother Alexan- 

Unluckily for the house of Tver, the following year the Tver- 
ians, exasperated by the baskak Chevkal, rose in rebellion and 
murdered him and all his suite. Alexander, instead of imitating 
the firm prudence of his Muscovite neighbors, allowed himself 
to be carried away by the popular passion. It was he who as- 
saulted the palace of the baskak, and lighted the fire. After 
such an action, he had no pity to expect from the Khan ; and if 
Uzbeck could have forgotten the insult to his majesty, the princes 
of Moscow would have kept him in mind of it. The brother of 
George, Ivan Kalita, offered to complete the ruin of Tver. Uz- 
beck promised him the title of Grand Prince, and gave him an 
army of 50,000 Tatars, to whom were joined the contingents of 
Moscow and Souzdal. Alexander, who had not had the wisdom 
to resist his people, had likewise not the courage to defend them 


and die with them. He fled with his brothers, to Pskof and Ladoga. 
Pitiless was the vengeance of the Khan, and the vengeance of 
Moscow. Tver, Kachine, and Torjok were sacked. Novgorod 
had to buy herself off by a war indemnity. Not content with exter- 
minating the Tverians, Uzbeck put to death at the same time the 
Prince of Riazan, son of that Prince laroslaf whom George Daniel- 
ovitch had murdered in prison. Tlie Horde and Moscow seemed 
to have the same enemies — they struck in concert. It is remark- 
able that it was in the blood of the martyrs Michael of Tver 
and Dmitri " with the terrible eyes," that " holy Russia " came 
to her growth. 

Ivan Kalita (1328-1341) became Grand Prince, and made 
the journey to the Horde with Constantine, son of Michael, 
who had replaced the fugitive Alexander on the throne of Tver. 
Ivan was well received, but Uzbeck commanded him to make 
Alexander appear before him. The ambassadors of the Grand 
Prince went to Pskof, to conjure Alexander to appear, or to sum- 
mon the Pskoviai>s to deliver him up. " Do not expose," they 
said, " a Christian people to the wrath of the infidels." But 
the Pskovians, touched by the prayers of the Prince of Tver, re- 
plied, " Do not go to the Horde, my lord ; whatever happens, 
we will die with thee." As magnanimous as the Novgorodians at 
the time of Alexander Nevski, as heroically absurd, they ordered 
the ambassadors to be gone, took np arms, and built a new fort- 
ress near Izborsk. Ivan assembled an army and persuaded the 
'Metropolitan Theognostus to place Alexander and the Pskov- 
ians under an interdict. Thus men saw a Christian prince perse- 
cute one of his kinsmen by order of the Tatars, and a metropolitan 
excommunicate the Christians to force them to obey the Khan. 
The Pskovians, though alarmed, would not yield an inch ; but 
Alexander left them and took refujje in Lithuania. Then thev 
said to the Grand Prince, " Alexander is gone ; all Pskof swears 
it, from the smallest to the greatest, popes, monks, nuns, 
orphans, women, and children " (1329). 

Alexander afterwards returned, and was again recognized 
by them as their prince, but still regretted his good city of Tver. 
The protection of the Lithuanian Gedimin was too dangerous 
and too burdensome. Alexander thought it would be easier to 
bend the terrible Uzbeck. He went to the Horde with his boy- 
ards. " Lord, all-powerful Tzar," he said to Uzbeck, " if I have 
done anything against you, I have come hither to receive of you 
life or death. Do as God inspires you ; I am ready for either." 
The Khan pardoned him, and Alexander returned to Tver. 
Ivan Kalita had hoped he had forever got rid of him. In Alex- 
ander's absence he was the master of Russia, had interfered in 



the afifairs of Tver, married one of his daughters to Vladimir of 
laroslavl and another to Constantine of Rostof, brother of the 
banished prince. The return of Alexander gave a chief to those 
who were discontented with Ivan. Instead of declaring war, 
Ivan preferred to resort to his ordinary means. He flew to the 
Horde, and there represented Alexander as the most dangerous 
enemy of the Mongols. In consequence of these insinuations, 
Alexander was summoned before the Khan ; this time he was 
beheaded, with his son Feodor. The rivalry with Moscow had 
already cost four princes of the house of Tver their lives. Uz- 
beck who had only confidence in Moscow, and who wished to 
govern the rest of Russia by terror, about this time put the 
Prince of Starodoub to death. The princes Constantine and 
Vassili of Tver, sons, brothers, and uncles of the victims, felt 
that they could only maintain themselves by obedience to their 
terrible father-in-law. As a proof of submission they sent to 
Kalita the great bell of the cathedral of Tver. The princes of 
Riazan and Souzdal were also obliged to fight under his stand- 
ards. Novgorod, threatened by him, began the course which 
afterwards proved so fatal to her, and might have proved the 
ruin of Russia ; she allied herself with Lithuania, accepted as 
prince, Narimond, a son of Gedimin, and gave him the Novgo- 
rodian possessions in Ingria and Carelia, as hereditary appanages. 
She tried also to make friends with the Grand Prince of Mos- 
cow, but Ivan only desired to restrict her liberties, and exacted, 
in the name of the Khan, a double capitation-tax. 

This unwarlike prince, at the same time as he strengthened 
his supremacy, acquired by purchase the towns of Ouglitch, 
Galitch, Bielozersk, and lands in the neighborhoods of Kostroma, 
Vladimir, and Rostof. He was at once Prince of Moscow and 
Grand Prince of Vladimir ; but Moscow was his inheritance, of 
which he could not legally be despoiled by the Khan, while 
Vladimir could be given to another house. It was thus that in 
Germany the archduchy of Austria was hereditary, whilst the 
imperial crown might legally pass to another family. It may 
therefore be imagined how Kalita chose to sacrifice Vladimir to 
Moscow, as the Hapsburgs sacrificed Frankfort to Vienna. 
His Tverian rivals, the two grand princes, his predecessors, had 
acted in the same way. Michael and Dmitri of Tver had hardly 
appeared at Vladimir, except to be crowned in the cathedral. 
They lived habitually in their appanage towns, one at Tver, the 
other at Pereiaslavl. Under Kalita, Vladimir remained the 
legal capital of Russia ; Moscow was the real capital, and Kalita 
was working to make her the capital dejure as well as de facto. 
The Metropolitan of Vladimir, Peter, who had an aiifection for 



Moscow, often resided there. His successor, Theognostus, 
establislied himself there completely. Then the religious su- 
premacy which had first belonged to Kief, and next to Vladimir, 
passed to Moscow. Kalita did his best to give it the prestige 
of a metropolis. He built magnificent churches in the Kremlin, 
among others that of the Assumption, the Ouspienski sobor. 
The first Metropolitans of Moscow, thanks to him and his suc- 
cessors, were beatified. St. Alexis and St. Peter are reckoned 
among the patron-saints of Russia. It is related that thft 
Metropolitan Peter himself marked out the place of his tomb in 
the new church, and that he said to Ivan, " God will bless thee, 
and elevate thee above all the other princes, and raise this town 
above all other towns. Thy race will reign in this place during 
many centuries ; their hands will conquer all their enemies ; the 
saints will make their dwelling here, and here shall my bones 

What made the chief glory of Kief the ancient metropolis 
was the famous Petcherski monastery, with its holy catacombs 
and the tombs of so manv ascetics and wonder-workers. Mos- 
cow had also her heritage of virtues and glorious austerity. 
Under Kalita's successor, not far from the capital, in a deep 
forest, where he had at first no companion but a bear, on water- 
courses which were haunted only by the beavers, St. Sergius 
founded the Troitsa monastery (the Trmity)^ which became one 
of the richest and most venerated of Eastern Russia. On its 
increase of wealth, it was obliged to be surrounded with ram- 
parts ; and its thick brick walls with a triple row of embrasures, 
its nine war-towers, and its still existing fortifications, were 
afterwards destined to brave the assaults of Catholics and infi- 
dels. The princes of Moscow, in spite of their perfidious and 
pitiless policy, were as pious as good King Robert — dhots^ 
alms-givers, indefatigable in building churches and monasteries, 
in honoring the clergy, and in helping the poor. The surname 
of Kalita given to Ivan comes from the kalita or alms-bag he 
wore always at his girdle. This kalita may also have been Shy- 
lock's purse — the bag of a prince who was farmer-general and 
usurer who demanded from Novgorod double what he intended 
to pay on her behalf to Uzbeck. Ivan liked to converse with 
the monks in his Convent of the Transfiguration. Like all the 
other princes of the house, he took care, when at the point of 
death, to be tonsured and adopt the religious dress and a new 

If the princes of Moscow labored with fierce energy to bind 
together the Russian soil, they continued to divide it into ap>- 
panages among their sons. Many causes contributed to prevent 
Vol.1 Russia? 


the return of the former anarchy. These princes, as a rule, had 
few sons ; they gradually got into the way of giving only very 
weak appanages to the younger ones, and these on condition of 
an absolute dependence on the eldest. Ivan, for example, had 
only three sons; he gave by far the larger share (Mojaisk and 
Kolomna) J;o Simeon, and forbade Moscow to be divided. The 
idea of the State as one and indivisible was certain to end by 
gaining the day. 


Simeon the Proud (1341-1353) and Ivan II. (1353-1359) 
succeeded one after the other their father Kalita, They were 
all three contemporaries of the early Valois. At the news of 
the death of Ivan, many princes at once disputed the throne of 
Vladimir with his sons. Constantine of Tver, and Constantine 
of Souzdal, especially, were supported by the other princes who 
did not desire the title of Grand Prince to be perpetuated in 
the house of Moscow. They went to the Horde at the same 
time as Simeon and his two sons travelled thither. Simeon 
owed his success neither to his eloquence nor his arguments, but 
to the treasure of his father, which won over the infidels. After 
being crowned in the Cathedral of Vladimir, he swore to live in 
harmony with his two brothers, and exacted from them the same 
oath. While pushing his submission to the Khan to the verge 
of baseness, he domineered over the Russian princes with a 
haughtiness that gained for him the surname of " the Proud." 
He forced Novgorod to pay him a contribution, and, in his 
capacity of supreme head of Russia, confirmed the liberties of 
the republic. He was the first who assumed the title of *' Grand 
Prince of all the Russias," which was little justified by the 
facts, as in 1341 Olgerd of Lithuania besieged the town of Mo- 
jaisk, Simeon's own appanage. The friendship of St. Alexis, 
third Metropolitan of Moscow, gave him great moral aid. In 
his reign Boris, a Russian artist, cast bells for the cathedrals of 
Moscow and Novgorod ; three churches of the Kremlin were 
adorned with new paintings — that of the Assumptiofi, by Greek 
artists ; that of St. Michael, by the Court painters ; that of the 
Transfiguration, by a foreigner named Goiten. Paper replaced 
parchment : and it was on paper that Simeon's will was written. 
Russia then still maintained her old relations with Byzantium, 
and entered into new ones with Europe. Simeon died of the 
famous " black death " or " black pestilence," which at this 
time desolated the West. 

Ivan II., brother and successor of " the Proud," deserves, 


on the contrary, the surname of " the Ddbonnaire." He was of 
a different type from the sinister princes of Souzdal, and was 
pacific and gentle. The anarchy into which Russia fell during 
the six years of his reign, shows how little his virtues were those 
of his century. Without attempting to avenge himself, Ivan 
permitted Oleg of Riazan to insult his territory, burn his villages 
of the Lopasnia, and ill-treat his lieutenant. He allowed the 
Novgorodians to despise his authority and obey Constantine of 
Souzdal ; he let the Grand Duke Olgerd occupy Rjef, and An- 
drew of Lithuania menace Pskof. He interfered neither in the 
civil wars of the princes of Riazan, nor in those of the princi- 
pality of Tver, nor in the troubles excited at Novgorod by the 
rivalry of the Slavonian quarters and that of St. Sophia, nor in 
the storm raised in the Church by the Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople, who dared to consecrate metropolitan a rival of St. 
Alexis. The murder of one of his officers, Alexis, military gov- 
ernor of Moscow, remained unpunished. In this weakness of 
the prince, the churchmen naturally came to the front, and took 
up the part abandoned by, him. Moses, Archbishop of Nov- 
gorod, quelled a revolt in the republic ; St. Alexis reconciled 
the princes of Tver, and acquired, by a miraculous cure, great 
power in the Horde, by which he profited to protect his people 
and his prince. At the death of Ivan II.. the title ctf Grand 
Prince, which his three predecessors had made such efforts to 
perpetuate in the house «f Moscow, passed to that of Souzdal. 
Dmitri of Souzdal (1359-1362), furnished with the iarlikh, made 
his solemn entry into Vladimir. It was ajjain St. Alexis who 
saved the supremacy of Moscow. After having blessed the 
Grand Prince in Vladimir, he returned to his care of the young 
children of Ivan II., and to Moscow, which had for a moment 
ceased to be the capital. It was by his counsel that Dmitri 
Ivanovitch, at the age of twelve, dared to declare himself the 
rival of Dmitri of Souzdal, and determined to appeal to the tri- 
bunal of the Khan. The Golden Horde was then a prey to 
civil wars ; the ferocious Mamai harassed Mourout, but as the 
latter reigned at Sarai, and seemed the legitimate successor of 
Bati, it was to him that the Souzdalian and Muscovite boyards 
addressed themselves. Mourout adjudged the Grand Principal- 
ity to the grandson of Kalita, whom a Muscovite army led to be 
consecrated in Vladimir. 


Dmitri Ivanovitch (1363-1389) is distinguished from nearly 
all the Souzdal princes by a warlike and chivalrous character 


worthy of the. West. He proves that the Russian soul had been 
only repressed, not rendered depraved and servile by the Tatar 
yoke, and that Slav chivalry only awaited an opportunity to 
raise the cry of war, and make their swords flash like the preux 
chevaliers of Louis IX. or of John the Good. Dmitri had at 
once to sustain a series of wars against the neighboring princes ; 
notably against Dmitri of Souzdal, Michael of Tver, and Oleg 
of Riazan. As changes took place at the Horde, Dmitri of 
Souzdal obtained from the Khan Mourout a reversal of his first 
decision, and returned to Vladimir. The Prince of Moscow, 
who feared this feeble Khan no longer, did not hesitate to take 
up arms, and to expel his rival from Vladimir. A treaty was 
agreed on between them. The Souzdalian appanage of Nijni- 
Novgorod having become vacant, Dmitri supported "his ancient 
enemy against his competitor Boris. Like his grandfather 
Kalita, who had caused Novgorod to be excommunicated, 
Dmitri Ivanovitch entreated St. Sergius, the founder of the 
Troitsa Monastery, to lay Nijni-Novgorod under an interdict. 
Then Boris yielded, and Dmitri of Souzdal, now Prince of Nijni- 
Novgorod, gave the Prince of Moscow his daughter Eudoxia in 
marriage, and henceforward remained his friend. Dmitri Ivan- 
ovitch deprived the rebel princes of Starodoub and Galitch of 
their appanages, and forced Constantine Borissovitch to recog- 
nize his supremacy. He made, under the guarantee of St. 
Alexis, a treaty with his cousin, Vladimir Andrievitch, by which 
he undertook to hand over to him the appanage that Kalita had 
secured to his father, and by which Vladimir engaged to ac- 
knowledge him as his father and his Grand Prince. Vladimir 
kept his word, and was always the bravest lieutenant and the 
right arm of Dmitri. 

The struggle now recommenced with the house of Tver. 
Michael Alexandrovitch, whose father had been killed at the 
Horde, disputed the throne with one of his uncles. The Grand 
Prince and the Metropolitan of Moscow took the part of the 
latter. Michael paid no attention to this decision, took Tver 
with a Lithuanian army, besieged his uncle in Kachine, and 
obliged him to renounce his claims. He then took the title of 
Grand Prince of Tver. It was chiefly the alliance with Olgerd, 
the husband of his sister Juliana, that rendered him formid- 
able. Thrice — in 1368, in 137 1, and in 1372 — Olgerd conducted 
his brother-in-law, burning and pillaging on his way, up to the 
walls of the Kremlin on Moscow. Neither the Lithuanian nor 
the Muscovite army on any of these occasions fought a decisive 
battle. The boyards of Dmitri felt that a lost battle would be 
the ruin of Russia; while Olgerd was too old and experienced to 



Stake all on a hazard. At last, in 1375, ^^^^"^ the death of his 
brother-in-law, Michael found himself besieged in Tver by the 
united forces of all the vassals and allies of Dmitri and of the 
Novgorodians who had the sack of Torjok and the devastation 
of their territory to avenge. Reduced to extremities, and aban- 
doned by Lithuania, he was constrained to sign a treaty by 
which he engaged to regard Dmitri as his " elder brother," to 
renounce all claim to Novgorod and Vladimir, not to disquiet the 
allies of Moscow, and to imitate Dmitri's conduct towards the 
Tatars, whether he continued to pay tribute or he declared war. 

Another enemy, not less dangerous, was Oleg of Riazan- wiio 
had formerly braved Ivan the Debonnaire. In 137 1, the us- 
covites defeated Oleg, and installed a prince of Pronsk u is 
capital, who was not, however, strong enough to maintain nis 
position. If Tver was sometimes supported by Lithuania, 
Riazan had often the Horde as an ally. 

The empire of Kiptchak was gradually falling to pieces. Many 
competitors disputed the throne of Sarai. The Tatars acted 
after their kind, and invaded the Russian territorv in disor- 
derly style. It is true it was no longer a point of honor with 
the Christian princes to submit to them. Oleg of Riazan him- 
self united with the princes of Pronsk and Kozelsk, and defied 
the mourza Tagai, who had burnt Riazan. Dmitri of Souzdal, 
prince of Nijni-Novgorod, had defeated Boulat-Temir, who on 
his return to the Horde had been disavowed and put to death. 
Finally, Dmitri of Moscow had many times disobeyed the terri- 
ble Mamai. He had, however, the courage to answer to the 
summons of the Khan, and the good fortune or the cleverness 
to return to Moscow safe and well (137 1). In 1376 Dmitri 
sent a great expedition against Kazan by the Volga, and forced 
two Tatar princes to pay tribute. Conflicts multiplied between 
the Christians and the infidels. In this manner the princes of 
Souzdal exterminated a band of Mordvians, and delivered up 
their chiefs to be torn in pieces by the dogs of Novgorod ; in 
return, Mamai ordered the town to be burnt. In 1378, Dmitri 
of Moscow gained a brilliant victory over the lieutenant of 
Mamai on the banks of the Voja in Riazan. In the first intox- 
ication of victory, he cried, " Their time is past, and God is 
with us ! " The Khan, in his blind fury, caused his anger to 
fall on Oleg of Riazan, the rival of Dmitri Ivanovitch, who fled, 
abandoning his lands to the ravages of the enemy. 

It took Mamai two years to mature his plans of vengeance, 
and he assembled in silence an immense host of Tatars, Turks, 
Polovtsi, Tcherkesses, lasses, and Bourtanians or Caucasian 
Jews. Even the Genoese of Kaffa, settled in the Crimea and 



on the territory of the Khan, furnished a contingent. In these 
critical circumstances for Russia, Oleg of Riazan, forgetting his 
grievances against the Tatars, and only remembering his mistrust 
and jealousy of Moscow, betrayed the common cause. While 
keeping on good terms with Dmitri, even while warning him of 
what was preparing, he secretly negotiated an alliance between 
the two most formidable enemies of Russia — Jagellon of Lithu- 
ania and IMamai. The Grand Prince's army would probably be 
crushed between them ; but Dmitri did not lose heart. The 
desire of vengeance awakened in the Russians with the force of 
religious enthusiasm. At the call of the Grand Prince, the 
princes of Rostof, Bielozersk, laroslavl, Starodoub, and Kachine, 
with their droiijinas ; the boyards of Vladimir, Nijni-Novgorod, 
Souzdal, Pereiaslavl-Zaliesski, Kostroma, Mourom, Dmitrof, 
Mojaisk, Zvenigorod, Ouglitch, and Serpoukhof, at the head of 
their contingents, successively made their entrance into the 
Kremlin, amid the acclamations of the Muscovites. At Kostroma 
Dmitri was to be joined by two Lithuanian princes — Andrew 
and Dmitri — who brought him troops from Pskof and Briansk. 
The grand Prince, with his cousin Vladimir, went to the hermit- 
age of Troitsa to ask the benediction of Saint Sergius. The 
latter predicted that he would gain the victory, but that it would 
be a bloody fiight. He sent two of his monks, Alexander Peres- 
vet and Osliaba, formerly a brave boyard of Briansk, to accom- 
pany Dmitri. On their cowls he made the sign of the cross. 
" Behold," he cried, " a weapon which faileth never." The 
Prince of Tver had taken good care not to send his contingent, 
and the treason of the Prince of Riazan now became known. 
The hearts of the Russians beat with joy and enthusiasm at the 
throught of revenge. In spite of private jealousies, the princes 
were animated by the same ardor as the Spanish kings when 
they marched against the Moors, or the companions of Godfrey 
of Bouillon on the road for the Holy Land. Never had such 
an army been seen. Dmitri is said to have had 150,000 men. 

They crossed the country of Riazan, then under a craven 
prince, and reached the banks of the Don. The princes de- 
bated as to whether it was necessary to cross the river immedi- 
ately ; but it was urgent to dispose of the Mongols before having 
on their hands Jagellon, who had already arrived at Odoef, 
fifteen leagues off. A letter which Dmitri received from Saint 
Sergius, recommending him to " go forwards," decided the 
matter. The Don was crossed, and they found themselves on 
the plain of Koulikovo {the Field of Woodcocks), watered by the 
Nepriadva. The centre was occupied by the princes of Lithu- 
ania and Smolensk, with the droujifia of Dmitri ; the right was 



commanded by the princes of Rostof and Starodoub, the left 
by those of laroslavl and Vologda ; the reserve by Prince 
Vladimir, the brave Dmitri of Volhynia, and the princes of 
Briansk and Kachine. The Mongols soon came up, and the 
battle began. It was bloody and dubious. The enemy had 
already cut to pieces the drotijina of the Grand Prince, when 
Vladimir and Dmitri of Volhynia, who had lain in ambush, sud- 
denly attacked the Tatars. Mamai, from the top of a kourgan, 
contemplated the flight of his army. His camp, his chariots, 
and his camels were all captured. The Mongols were pursued 
to the Metcha, in which many drowned themselves. If the 
barbarians lost, as they are said to have done, 100,000 men, the 
Russian loss was also very severe. They counted among the 
dead the two monks of Saint Sergius ; one of them, Peresvet 
was discovered in the arms of a Patzinak giant, who had fought, 
with him hand to hand, and perished along with him. For a 
long while Dmitri could not be found; at last he was seen in 
a swoon, his armor bloody and broken. This memorable battle 
of Koulikovo has been related in more than one way by the 
Russian historians. With the annalists, properly so called, the 
official historiographers of the Grand Prince, Dmitri is the 
hero. In the poetical recitals which were inspired by the ac- 
count of the pope Sophronius, it is Saint Sergius who at each 
moment supports the courage of Dmitri, whom they represent 
■with rather too much humility for a general-in-chief. The battle 
of the Don, which gained for Dmitri the surname of Donsko'i, 
and for Vladimir that of the Brave, is as celebrated in Russia 
as that of Las Navas de Tolosa in Spain. It showed the Rus- 
sians that they could vanquish the invincible ; and the Mongol 
yoke, even after they again fell under it, did not seem in- 
evitable. Dmitri had heroically broken the tradition of slavery ; 
he had proclaimed the future freedom (1380). 

Unhappily the event showed the advantages of the policy 
of resignation over the policy of chivalry — of the patience of the 
hero of the Neva over the bravery of the hero of the Don. A 
man appeared at this moment at the head of the Mongols, who 
was as formidable as Genghis Khan — Tamerlane, the conqueror 
of the two Bokharas, of Hindostan. of Iran, and of Asia Minor. 
Tokhtamych, one of his generals, caused Mamai to be put 
to death, and announced to Dmitri that he had triumphed 
over their common enemy ; then he summoned the Russian 
princes to present themselves at the Horde. Dmitri refused. 
Was it in vain that the blood of the Christians had flowed at 
Koulikovo ? The Khan assembled an immense army. Dmitri 
found no longer the same wisdom or energy among his coun. 

1 5 2 HIS TOR y OF- R USSIA. 

cillors. Net knowing what to do, he left Moscow and went to 
assemble an army at Kostroma. Tokhtamych marched straight 
on the capital, and during three days tried to carry the walls of 
the Kremlin by assault. Then he had recourse to a ruse, and 
affected to enter in a negotiation. At last the Tatars surprised 
the gates, and delivered up Moscow to fire and sword. A 
tolerably exact calculation proves that 24,000 men perished, 
beside the precious documents and earliest archives of the prin- 

Vladimir, Mojaisk, lourief, and other towns of Souzdal suf- 
fered the same fate. When Tokhtamych had retired, Dmiui came 
and wept over the ruins of his capital. "Our fathers," he cried, 
" who never triumphed over the Tatars, were less unhappy than 
we." Bitter morrow of victory ! However, although Russia 
had to resign herself to her Tatar collectors, she felt that the 
Horde would never recover its former power. 

Dmitri longed at least to revenge himself on the perfidious 
Oleg. The latter escaped him, but Riazan, which was regarded 
as a harbor for traitors, was sacked. Michaelof Tver merited 
the same chastisement ; he had refused to fight Mamai, and was 
one of the first" to fly to the Horde of Tokhtamych. The war 
continued with Oleg of Riazan, who ravaged the territory of 
Kolomna. Saint Sergius again intervened, entreated and threat- 
ened Oleg, and finally induced him to conclude a " perpetual 
peace " with Dmitri, and to cement it by the marriage of his 
son Feodor with Sophia, daughter of Dmitri. 

The Novgorod adventurers, the " Good Companions," had 
about this time committed many ravages on the territories of 
the Grand Principalities. They insulted laroslavl and Kos- 
troma in 1371, and Kostroma and Nijni-Novgorod in 1375, pil- 
laging as far as Sarai and Astrakhan, sparing neither infidels 
nor Christians. Novgorod continued to furnish appanages to 
the Lithuanian princes, to despise the political authority of the 
Grand Prince, and the religious supremacy of the Metropolitan. 
Dmitri marched against the republic with the contingents of 
twenty-five provinces. Novgorod had to pay an indemnity for 
the glorious deeds of the Good Companions, and to engage to 
furnish a yearly tribute. 

When Dmitri died, the principality of Moscow was by far the 
most considerable of the States of the North-east, since it ex- 
tended on the south to Kalouga and Kasimof, and included on 
the north-east Bielozersk and Galitch. As to Vladimir, Dmitri, 
in his will, calls it his patrimony. He has been reproached for 
having limited himself to the sack of Tver and Riazan, without 
hastening their final annexation. If Dmitri gave appanages to 



his five younger sons, he at least established the principle of in- 
heritance in a direct line instead of the ancient principle of col- 
lateral succession. He had signed a treaty with his cousin 
Vladimir, by which the latter renounced his rights as " eldest of 
the family," engaging to consider Vassili, eldest son of Dmitri, 
as his " elder brother." In the reign of Donskoi the monk 
Stephen founded the first church in the country of the Permians, 
confuted their priests and sorcerers, overthrew the idols of 
Volssel and the Old Golden Woman who held two infants in her 
arms, put a stop to the sacrifice of reindeer, built schools, and 
died Bishop of Permia. A certain Andrew, probably a Genoese 
by birth, settled on the Petchora. Russia entered into relations 
with the West by means of the Genoese of Kaffa and Azof ; coins 
of silver and copper, with the image of a knight, replaced the 
kounes, or marten-skins. About 1389 the first cannons appeared 
in the Russian army. Moscow continued to adorn herself, and 
the monasteries of the Miracle, of Andronii, and of Simeon were 


Vassili Dmitrievitch (1389-1425), the contemporary of Charles 
VI. of France, succeeded his father without opposition as 
Grand Prince of Moscow and Vladimir. The preponderance 
of the first of these towns over the second became more and 
more marked. The situation of both was equally advantageous ; 
the one on the Moskowa, the other on the Kliazma, affluents 
of the Oka. Vladimir, like Moscow, had its kremlin on a high 
hill, commanding a vast extent of country. Both cities were in 
communication with the great Russian artery, the Volga ; but 
were far enough from it to escape the piracies of the Good (Com- 
panions. Vladimir had been in other respects as favored as 
Moscow. Andrew Boglioubski had ornamented the former, as 
Ivan Kalita had embellished the second. Vladimir, to which 
the title of Grand Principality was attached, seemed even 
better fitted than Moscow to be the capital of Russia, It was 
almost an historical accident that decided in favor of the latter. 
At the present day Vladimir is merely a simple seat of govern- 
ment with a population of 14,000, while Moscow is a metropolis 
with 600,000 souls. 

With regard to Novgorod, the Grand Prince of Moscow be- 
gan to look upon it from the point of view of a sovereign, and 
called the city " his patrimony." The Nov^gorodians on their side 
appealed to the charter of laroslaf the Great, which formally con- 



ceded them the right to choose their princes. In the last reigns 
they had been accustomed to have recourse to a bargain. I'iie 
republicans recognized the sovereign of Moscow as their prince, 
if the latter would consent to certain conditions, — the final hom- 
age rendered to the ancient Slav freedom. After the fall of 
Alexander of Tver (1328), no Russian prince could compete with 
the house of Moscow for the throne of Novgorod. The only 
possible rivals were the Grand Prince:; of Lithuania. Now with 
Lithuania it was not only a competition of candidates, but it was 
a great national and religious question. Moscow would prefer 
to ruin Novgorod rather than allow her to pass into the hands 
of the most dangerous enemy of Russian orthodoxy. We may 
say that after 1328 Novgorod had no longer a special prince, 
but only a boyard of Moscow, who represented the Grand Prince. 
The power of the latter was sometimes exerted with vigor. In 
1393 Novgorod having revolted against Moscow, Vassili sent in 
his troops, and seventy inhabitants of Torjok, accused of having 
put to death one of his men, were cut to pieces. 

Vassili Dmitrievitch then, on his accession to the throne, 
found his power considerably strengthened, as Vladimir on the 
Kliazma and Novgorod the Great, the objects of so many bloody 
contests with the Russian princes, had in some ways already 
become integral parts of his dominions. If he went to the Horde 
in 1392, it was less to obtain the confirmation of this triple crown 
than to acquire new territories. From the Khan Tokhtamych he 
bought a iarlikh, which put him in possession of the three appan- 
ages of Mourom, Nijni-Novgorod, and Souzdal. The boyards 
of Moscow and the ambassador of the Khan betook themselves 
to Nijni, Boris, the last titular prince of the two- latter appa- 
nages, was betrayed by his men, who persuaded him to open the 
gates, and delivered him up to the soldiers of the Grand Prince. 
Then, with the ringing of all the bells in the town, Vassili of 
Moscow was proclaimed Prince of Nijni and Souzdal. 

This prince, who lived on such good terms with the Horde, 
was witness, however, of two Tatar invasions of Russia. Tamer- 
lane, conqueror of the Ottoman Turks at Anticyra, attacked his 
old favorite Tokhtamych, and pillaged the Golden Horde. He 
continued to move towards the West, putting the Russian ter- 
ritory to fire and sword. Moscow was threatened with an inva- 
sion as terrible as that of Bati. The famous Virgin of Vladimir, 
brought by Andrew Bogolioubski from Vychegorod, was taken 
solemnly to Moscow. The Tatars reached Eletz on the Don, 
and made its princes prisoners. There they stopped, and sud- 
denly retreated. Accustomed to the rich booty of Bokhara and 
Hindostan, and dreaming of Constantinople and Egypt, they 


found, no doubt, that the desert steppes and deep forests only 
offered a very meagre prey. They indemnified themselves by 
the pillage of Azof, where Egyptian, Venetian, Genoese, Catalan 
and Biscayan merchants had accumulated great vvealih, and 
by the destruction of Astrakhan and Sarai (1395.) 

The irruption of Tamerlane resulted in the more rapid dis- 
solution of the Golden Horde. We have seen that Vitovt took 
advantage of it to organize against the Mongols his great crusade 
of the Vorskla (1399). Vassili Dmitridvitch had taken good care 
not to interfere in the war between Lithuania and the Kiptchaks. 
His Western neighbors appeared to him more dangerous than 
those of the East ; with the latter the payment of the tribute 
still sufficed, with the former the stake was the existence of 
Russia. Vassili profited by the defeat of the one and the dis- 
organization of the other, and was careful to irritate neither party. 
As the Horde was then disputed by many competitors, he for- 
bore to pay the tribute, affecting not to know which was the legi- 
timate Khan. Ediger, the vanquisher of Vitovt, resolved to 
reduce the Russian vassals to obedience. He lulled the pru- 
dence of the Muscovites to rest by spreading the rumor that he 
was assembling troops for a war against Lithuania. Suddenly 
they heard that he had entered the Grand Principality. Vassili 
imitated the conduct of his father in similar circumstances. He 
retired to Kostroma to assemble an army, and confided the 
defence of Moscow to Vladimir the Brave. Defended by artil- 
lery, the Kremlin could withstand the attack of a large force, 
but the dense population caused fears of famine. Ediger burnt 
the towns in the fiat country while blockading Moscow. Ivan, 
prince of Tver, showed on this occasion more greatness of soul 
and political wisdom than his father Michael. He abstained 
from coming to the help of the Tatars against his formidable 
suzerain. In these circumstances Ediger learnt that his master 
Boulat himself feared an attack at the Horde by his Oriental 
enemies. To cover his forced retreat he addressed a haughty 
letter to the Grand Prince, summoning him to pay tribute ; he 
obtained three thousand roubles from the Muscovite boyards as 
a war indemnity (1408). 

Vitovt of Lithuania, whose daughter Sophia Vassili had mar- 
ried, was a still more dangerous enemy. Great caution was 
necessary in all dealings with him. Vassili saw the hand of his 
father-in-law, in the troubles of Novgorod, everywhere ; at Pskof, 
where Vitovt had taken the title of Grand Prince ; at Smolensk, 
which he had united to Lithuania ; at Tver, where he supported 
Michael against the Grand Prince. Like Olgerd, Vitovt marched 
thrice against Moscow. Each of the two rivals had too many 


Other enemies to dispose of, to risk in one battle the fortunes of 
Moscow or Lithuania. In 1408 they signed a treaty by which 
the Ougra was fixed on as the limit of the two Grand Princi- 
paliiies, leaving Smolensk to Vitovt, and restoring Kozelsk to 
Russia. Besides Mourom and Souzdal, Vassili had united to 
his domains many appanages of the country of Tchernigof, such 
as Toroussa, Novossil, Kozelsk, and Peremysl. In the quarrels 
with Novgorod, generally occasioned by the exploits of the Good 
Companions or by commercial rivalry, he had appropriated vasl 
territories on the Dwina ; among others, Vologda. In an exped- 
ition against the republic of Viatka he had reduced it to sub- 
mission, and made one of his brothers its prince. He had 
imposed a treaty on Feodor Olgivitch, prince of Riazan, by 
which the latter undertook to look on him as a father, and to 
make no alliance to his hurt. Vassili on his side ceded to him 
Toula and the title of Grand Prmce. The Oka formed the 
boundary of the two States. He made, no doubt, a similar 
treaty with Ivan, prince of Tver. One of his daughters had 
married the Emperor John Palaeologus. 

The reign of Vassili the Blind (T425-1462), contemporary 
with Charles VII. of France, marks a pause in the development 
of the Grand Principality. A civil war of twenty years broke 
out in the bosom of the izxdAyoiDonskoi. One of his sons, 
George, or louri, whom he had made Prince of Roussa and 
Zvenigorod, attempted to revert to the ancient national law, and 
invoked his right as " eldest " against his nephew, Vassili Vas- 
silidvitch. Vassili's other uncles declared in favor of the young 
prince. In 143 1 it was necessary to carry the dispute to the 
Horde. Each of the two parties set forth his right to the Khan 
Oulou-Makhmet. Vsevolojski, a boyard of the Prince of Mos- 
cow, found the best of arguments for his master. " My Lord 
Tzar," he said to Makhmet, " let me speak — me, the slave of 
the Grand Prince. My master the Grand Prince prays for the 
throne of the Grand Principality, which is thy property, having 
no other title but thy protection, thy investiture, and thy iarlikh. 
Thou art master, and can dispose of it according to thy good 
pleasure. My lord the Prince louri Dmitri^vitch, his uncle, 
'claims the Grand Principality by the act and the will of his 
father, but not as a favor from the All-powerful." In this con- 
test of baseness the prize was adjudged to the Prince of Moscow. 
The Khan ordered louri to lead his nephew's horse by the 
bridle. A Tatar baskak was present at the coronation of the 
Grand Prince, which took place, for the first time, not at Vladi- 
mir, but at the Assumption in Moscow. From this time Vladi- 
mir lost her privileges as the capital, although, in the enumeration 



of their titles, the Grand Princes continued to inscribe tlie name 
of Vladimir before that of Moscow. 

Vassili owed his throne to the clever boyard, Vsevolojski. 
He had promised to marry his daughter, but his own mother, 
Sophia, the proud Lithuanian, daughter of the great Vitovt, 
made him contract an alliance with the Princess Maria, grand- 
daughter of Vladimir the Brave. The irritated boyard left Vas- 
sili's service, and retired to his enemy, louri, whose resentment 
against his nephew he fanned. Another circumstance exasper- 
ated louri ; his two sons, Vassili the Squinting, and Chemiai<.a, 
assisted at the marriage of the Grand Prince. The Princess 
Sophia recognized round the waist of Vassili the Squinting a 
belt of gold which had belonged to Dmitri Donskoi. She liad 
the imprudence, publicly and with open scandal, to take it from 
the son of louri. On this affront, the two princes at once left 
the banqueting-hall, and retired to their father. The latter in- 
stantly took up arms, and departed for Pereiaslavl. The Prince 
of Moscow could hardly assemble any troops, and fell into the 
hands of his uncle at Kostroma, (1433). Vassili tried in vain to 
soften him by his tears. The Squinter and Chemiaka wished 
their prisoner to be put to death, but by the selC Interested counsel 
of the boyard Morozof, louri allowed his nephew to live, and 
gave him the appanage of Kostroma, while he took for himself 
the Grand Principality. The affection of- the Muscovites for 
their prince was so great, that they abandoned their city ^« masse, 
and crowded into Kostroma. louri saw that his nephew was 
still powerful, reproached Morozof for his perfidious advice, and 
had him stabbed by his two sons. " Thou hast ruined our 
father," they said. The usurper was indeed unable to remain in 
Moscow, and sent to tell his nephew he might come and take 
possession of it. The boyards pressed around Vassili on his 
return to his capital, "as bees press around their queen." The 
war, however, continued : thanks to the cowardice of Vassili, 
louri again took the Kremlin, and made prisoners the wife and 
mother of the Grand Prince, while the Squinter and Chemiaka 
occupied Vladimir, and marched on Nijni-Novgorod. 

louri had hardly been recognized as Grand Prince of Nov- 
gorod, when he died suddenly. His sons then made peace with 
Vassili, but immediately took up arms again. In one of the 
many reverses of this civil war, Vassili the Squinting fell into 
the hands of the Grand Prince, who had his eyes put out in an 
excess of fury (1436). Then, by one of those changes com« 
mon to violent and impulsive natures, he passed from anger to 
dismay ; and to atone for his crime against his cousin, set free 
Chemiaka, whom he had made prisoner at the same time. 

158 ^^S TOR Y OF K USSIA. 

Chemiaka promised to serve him, but served him very badly. 
In a battle with the Tatars, his desertion caused the rout of the 
Russian army (siege of Bidlef, in Lithuania). In 1441 the wat 
began again between the Grand Prince and Chemiaka. The 
latter,with some thousands of Free-lances and Good Companions, 
suddenly undertook the siege of Moscow. Zenobius, superior 
of the Tro'itsa monastery, succeeded once more in reconciling 
them. Chemiaka displayed his ordinary duplicity on the occa- 
sion of a military incursion of the Tatars of Kazan. The Grand 
Prince waited in vain for the succors that had been promised 
him, and it was with only 1500 men that he finally took the field, 
so much had the discords between the descendants of Dmitri 
Donskoi weakened the Grand Principality, loosened the ties of 
obedience among the vassals, and degraded that Russia which 
had armed 150,000 men against Mamai. Vassili, covered with 
fifteen wounds, fell into the hands of the barbarians, and was 
led prisoner to Kazan. 

Moscow was in despair. The Prince of Tver insulted her 
territory ; Chemiaka intrigued at the Horde to get himself nom- 
inated Grand Prince. All at once the Tzar of Kazan took it 
into his head to liberate his prisoners for a small ransom. 
Vassili re-entered his capital amid the acclamations of his 
people. Chemiaka had done enough to fear the vengeance of 
the Grand Prince ; in the interests of his own safety, Vassili 
must be overthrown. Following the example of his father and 
grandfather, Vassili went to the Troitsa monastery to return 
thanks to Saint Sergius for his deliverance. He had few com- 
panions and Chemiaka and his associates surprised the Kremlin 
in his absence, and captured his wife, his mother, and his treas- 
ures. Then he flew to Troitsa, where his accomplice, Ivan of 
Mojaisk, discovered the Grand Prince, who was hidden in the 
principal church near the tomb of Saint Sergius. He was 
brought back to Moscow, and ten years after the blinding of 
Vassili the Squinting, Chemiaka avenged his brother by putting 
out the eyes of the Grand Prince (1446). 

During his short reign at Moscow, Chemiaka had made him- 
self hated by the people and the boyards, who were faithful at 
bottom to their unhappy prince. In the popular language, a 
" judgment of Chemiaka " became the synonym for a crying 
wrong. Presently Vassili's partisans assembled troops in 
Lithuania, joined those of the two Tatar tzarh'itches, and 
marched against the usurper. At this period, Russia was in- 
fested by armed bands, the relics of the great Tatar and 
Lithuanian wars, Lithuanian adventurers, tzarevitches banished 
from the Horde, Novgorodian Good Companions, Free-lances 



of all races. They ravaged the flat countr)', attacked the 
strongest towns, and their chiefs sometimes created ephemeral 
principalities for themselves. As the Asiatic element predom- 
inated in them, they might be termed Great Mongol Companies, 
analogous to the Great English or the Fre7uJi Companies that, 
about the year 1444, Charles VII. sent to Alsace and Switzer- 
land. Serving Chemiaka or the Grand Prince indifferently, they 
did their best to perpetuate the quarrel. Chemiaka wished to 
march against his enemies. Hardly had he left Moscow when 
the city broke into revolt, and Vassili entered in triumph. 
Chemiaka fled, and accepted a reconciliation with his victim 
(1447). Incapable of repose, he again took up arms, was com- 
pletely defeated near Galitch by the Muscovites and Tatars 
(1450), and fled to Novgorod, where he is said to have died 
three years after, by poison. All his appanages were reunited 
to the royal domain. 

Disembarrassed of this dangerous enemy, Vassili the Blind 
hastened to take up the work of his predecessors. Nov'gorod 
had not ceased to give asylum to his enemies, to despise the 
authority of his lieutenants, to contest his right of final appeal 
and the supremacy of the Metropolitan. A Aluscovite army re- 
duced her to reason ; she was forced to annul all the acts of the 
vetchs which tended to limit the authority of the Grand Prince, 
to pay him a heavy indemnity, and to promise to set no seal but 
that of Vassili on her deeds. Pskof received one of his sons as 
her prince. The republic of Viatka had to pay tribute, and to 
furnish a military contingent. The Prince of Riazan having just 
died, Vassili took his young heir to Moscow, under pretence of 
bringing him up, and sent his lieutenant to govern the appan- 
age. Vassili of Borovsk, grandson of Vladimir the Brave, had 
rendered him important services, but none the less was he im- 
prisoned, and his possessions swallowed up in the Grand Prin- 
cipality. The authority of the Grand Prince began to be ex- 
ercised on his subordinates with new rigor ; and the rebels, real 
or supposed, were subjected to the knout, tortures, mutilations, 
and refined cruelties. Vassili, who had suffered so much from 
the appanaged princes louri and Chemiaka — who was so ener- 
getic in destroying the appanages around him — could not free 
himself from the yoke of custom, and began to dismember the 
principality which he had aggrandized, in favor of his four 
younger sons. However, to avoid all contests about the title of 
Grand Prince, and to ensure the succession of the direct line, 
he had, since the year 1449, associated with himself his eldest 
son, Ivan. 

Memorable events had agitated the orthodox world during 


his reign. In 1439, Pop^ Eugenius IV. assembled the Council 
of Florence to discuss the union of the two Churches. The 
Greek Emperor, John Pal^ologus, who hoped to obtain the help 
of the Pope against the Ottomans, had sent the bishops of 
his communion ; Isidore, Metropolitan of Moscow, was also 
present. It was in vain that the Emperor of Constantinople, 
three vicars of the Patriarchs of the East, seventeen met- 
ropolitans, and a multitude of bishops signed the act of 
union. The Greek world listened to the energetic protest of 
Mark, the old bishop of Ephesus, and rejected the union with 
Rome. Isidore announced at Kief and Moscow that he had 
signed the act of reconciliation ; the appearance of the Latin 
cross at the Assumption in the Kremlin, the name of Pope 
Eugenius in the public prayers, and the reading of the formal 
document, astonished the Russians. Vassili, who piqued him- 
self on his theology, also raised his voice, began a polemic 
against Isidore, and so overwhelmed him with insults, that the 
" false shepherd " thought it prudent to fly to Rome. This 
check to the union heralded the fall of the Greek empire. In 
1453, Mahomet II. entered Constantinople. There was no 
longer a Christian Tzar ; Moscow became the great metropolis 
of orthodoxy. She was heir of Constantinople. Soon the 
monks, the artists, the literary men of Constantinople were to 
bring to her, as to the rest of Europe, the Renaissance. 





Submission of Novgorod — Annexation of Tver, Rostof, and laroslavl — Wars 
with the Great Horde and Kazan — End of the Tatar yoke — Wars with 
Lithuania — Western Russia as far as the Soja reconquered — Marriage with 
Sophia Palaeologus — Greeks and Italians at the Court of Moscow. 


At the death of Vassili the Blind, Russia was all but stifled 
between the great Lithuanian empire and the vast possessions 
of the Mongols. To the north, she had two restless neighbors, 
the Livonian Order and Sweden. In spite of the labors of eight 
Muscovite princes, the little Russian State could not yet make 
its unity a fact ; Riazan and Tver, though weakened, still exr 
isted. Novgorod and Pskof hesitated between the Grand 
Princes of Moscow and Lithuania. The heirs of Kalita, by 
creating new appanages, incessantly destroyed the unity after 
which they toiled, by means of a pitiless policy. Muscovy, 
which touches on no sea, had only intermittent relations with 
the centres of European civilization. It was, however, the time 
when the nations of the West began to be organized. Charles 
"VII. and Louis XI. in France, Ferdinand and Isabella in Spain, 
the Tudors in England, Frederic III. and Maximilian in Austria, 
labored to build up powerful States from the ruins of feudal 
anarchy. European civilization made unheard-of strides ; the 
Renaissance began, printing spread, Christopher Columbus and 
Vasco da Gama discovered new worlds. Was not Russia also 
going to achieve her unity, to take part in the great European 
movement ? The man who was to restore her to herself, to free 
her from the Mongol yoke, to put her into relations with the 
West, — this man was expected. It had all been predicted. 
When a son named Ivan was born in 1440 to Vassili the Blind, 
an old monk had a revelation about it in Novgorod the Great. 

r 6 2 HIS TOR Y OF A' USS/A. 

He came and said to his archbishop : " Truly it is to-day that 
the Grand Prince triumphs ; God has given him an heir ; I be- 
hold this child making himself illustrious by glorious deeds. 
He will subdue princes and peoples. But woe to Novgorod ! 
Novgorod will fall at his feet, and never rise up again." 

Ivan III., whose reign of forty-three years was to permit him 
to realize the expectations of Russia, was a cold, imperious, cal- 
culating prince, the very type of the Souzdalian and Muscovite 
princes. Disliking war, he allowed doubts to be thrown upon 
his courage. He was victorious in Lithuania, in Livonia and 
Siberia, almost without leaving the Kremlin. His father had 
taken long journeys, which led him into many sad adventures, 
but Stephen of Moldavia said of Ivan : " Ivan is a strange man ; 
he stays quietly at home and triumphs over his enemies, while 
I, though always on horseback, cannot defend my country." 
It was the verdict of Edward IH. on Charles V. Ivan ex- 
hausted his enemies by negotiations and delay, and never ern- 
ployed force till it was absolutely necessary. His devotion was 
mixed with hypocrisy. He wept for his relatives whom he put 
to death, as Louis XL bewailed the Due de Guienne. Born a 
despot, " he had," says Karamsin, "penetrated the secret of au- 
tocracy, and became a formidable deity in the eyes of the Rus- 
sians." His glance caused women to faint. When he slept 
after his meals, it was wonderful to see the frightened respect of 
the boyards for the sleep of the master. He inflicted cruel pun- 
ishments and tortures on all rebels, even on those of the highest 
rank ; he mutilated the counsellors of his son, whipped Prince 
Oukhtomski and the archimandrite of a powerful monastery, 
and burned alive two Poles in an iron cage on the Moskowa, for 
having conspired against him. He had already won the sur- 
name of " Terrible," which his grandson was to bear even more 

Ivan's first effort was directed against Novgorod the Great. 
The republic of the Ilmen was dying in the anarchy of the aris- 
tocracy, the dissensions of the people, the Church, and especially 
of the boyards. It is of this epoch that M. Bielaef has said, 
that " parties in Novgorod had become so complicated, that 
often it is difficult to perceive from what motive this or that fac- 
tion excited troubles and revolts." They thought themselves 
able to despise the authority of a new prince, and had the im- 
prudence to neglect the complaints and suggestions made in a 
tolerably moderate tone by Ivan III. He then signified to the 
Pskovians that they would have to second him in an expedition 
against the rebels. This the Pskovians did not wish to do, fore* 
seeing that the fall of Novgorod would drag them down also 


They offered their mediation to their "elder sister" — it was 
rejected, and they were obliged to proceed. Ivan III. often 
received, however, the Archbishop of Novgorod, Theophilus, in 
his palace at Moscow, and continued to negotiate. He had a 
large party in Novgorod, but the opposing faction was the bolder. 
Marfa, the widow of the possadnik Boretski, mother of two 
grown-up sons, put herself at the head of the anti-Muscovite 
party. Ready and eloquent speech, immense wealth, an auda- 
city Crjual to everything, had given her a great influence with 
the people and the boyards. This intrepid woman was the last 
incarnation of Novgorodian liberty. To save the republic, Marfa 
wished to throw it into the arms of the King of Poland, Casimir 
IV. She contended also that the Archbishop of Novgorod 
should be nominated by the Metropolitan of Kief, not by the 
Metropolitan of Moscow. In her devotion to Novgorod, she 
thus betrayed the cause of Russia and orthodoxy. The sittings 
of the vetche, amid the opposition of the two parties, degenerated 
into violent tumults. Some cried, " The king ; " others, " Long 
live orthodox Moscow ! long live the Grand Prince Ivan and 
our father the Metropolitan Philip!" The friends of Marfa 
finally won the day. Novgorod handed herself over to the King 
of Poland by a formal act in which she stipulated for the same 
rights as she had enjoyed under her ancient princes. Ivan III. 
tried once more to recall the citizens to obedience, and he sent 
them an ambassador, but the party of Marfa was always the 
more numerous or the more noisy. At last Ivan decided to 
begin the war. His voievodes made the conquest of the terri- 
tory of the Uwina ; the Muscovites, supported by the Tatar cav- 
alry, cruelly ravaged the territory of the " perfidious " Novgoro- 
dians ; after the battle of Korostyne, they cut off the noses and 
lips of the prisoners. The republicans had fallen from their an- 
cient valor ; Marfa had hastily enrolled ill-disciplined artisans. 
At the battle of the Chelona, 5000 Muscovites defeated 30,000 
Novgorodians. At Roussa the Grand Prince caused many boy- 
ards to be beheaded, one of whom was a son of Marfa, and sent 
others as prisoners into Muscovy. Ivan III. always advanced, 
fighting and negotiating. Novgorod submitted, paid a war in- 
demnity, and, if she still remained a republic, she was a republic 
dependent on the good pleasure of the Prince (1470). 

From that time Ivan labored entirely to reduce the town, 
and his party in Novgorod increased. If the people complained 
of the injustice of his lieutenants, he blamed the insufficiencv of 
the ancient laws of the city. He tried to excite the animosity 
of the lower classes against the boyards. It was by the invita 
tion of the former that he came in 1475 t° ^o\^ a solemn court 


in Novgorod. Great and small immediately crowded to his tri- 
bunal, to beg for justice one against the other. Ivan saw how 
much his own cause was strengthened by these divisions. An 
act of authority that he tried, succeeded completely. Marfa's 
second son, the possadnik, and many boyards were loaded 
with chains, and sent to Moscow. No one dared to protest. 
On his return to his capital, a multitude of complainants 
hastened after him ; he forced them all to appear before him. 
Since Rurik, say the annalists, such a violation of Novgorod's 
liberty had never been known. Profiting by a documentary 
error made by the envoys of the town, he declared himself sov- 
ereign (go9oudar) of Novgorod, instead of lord (gospodine). 
Now if this interpretation were accepted, the subjection of the 
republic, which was only a matter of fact, would become a matter 
of law. The party of Marfa made a last effort to reject this sov- 
ereignty ; the friends of the Grand Prince were massacred. Ivan 
declared that the Novgorodians, after having accorded him the 
title of gofoudar, had the effrontery to deny it. Then the Met- 
ropolitan, the bishops, the boyards, all Moscow, advised him to 
make war. Accordingly it was preached as a Holy War against 
the allies of the Pope and Lithuania. All the forces of Russia 
were put in motion, and many boyards of Novgorod appeared at 
the camp of the Grand Prince. " The city was blockaded, and 
starved out. In vain the partisans of Marfa shouted the old 
war-cry : " Let us die for liberty and Saint Sophia ! " They 
were forced to capitulate. Ivan guaranteed to them their per- 
sons and possessions, their ancient jurisdiction, and exemption 
from the Muscovite service ; but the vetche' and the possadnik 
were abolished forever. The belfry was reduced to silence. 
The Republic of Novgorod had ceased to exist (1478). 

Marfa and the principal oligarchs were transported to Moscow, 
and their goods confiscated. Many times afterwards, there were 
party agitations, which were quelled by Ivan III. and his suc- 
cessor, by numerous transportations. In 1481 some boyards 
were tortured and put to death. Eight thousand Novgorodians 
were transplanted to the towns of Souzdal. Ivan III. struck 
another terrible blow at the prosperity of the city when, in 1495, 
after a quarrel with the people of Revel, he caused the merchants 
of forty-nine Hanseatic towns to be arrested at Novgorod, 
pillaged the " German market," and removed wares to the value 
of ^40,000 to Moscow. The covetous Grand Prince doubtless 
did not see he was killing the hen with the golden eggs. A long 
while elapsed before the merchants of the West again made 
their appearance in Novgorod. Pskof, more docile, had preserved 
her vetchi zxidi her ancient institutions. 


Whilst he was destroying the liberty of Novgorod, Ivan de- 
prived her of her colonies, and undertook on his own account the 
conquest of Northern Russia. By this time Muscovy extended 
as far as Finland, the White Sea and the ley Ocean, and had 
already obtained a footing in Asia. Ivan had conquered Permia 
in 1472, by which means he became master of the " silver beyond 
the Kama," which the Novgorodians had hitherto got in the 
course of trade. In 1489, Viatka, which had fallen for a short 
time into the power of the Tatars of Kazan, was reconquered, 
and lost her republican organization. In 1499 the voievodes of 
Oustiougue, of the Dwina and of Viatka, advanced as far as the 
Petchora, and built a fortress on the banks of the river. In the 
depth of winter, in sledges drawn by dogs, they passed the defiles 
of the Ourals, in the teeth of the wind and snow, slew 50 of the 
Samoyedes, and captured 200 reindeer ; invaded the territory of 
the Vogouls and Ougrians, the Finnish brethren of the Magyars ; 
took 40 enclosures of palisades, made 50 princes prisoners, and 
returned to Moscow, after having reduced this unknown country, 
supposed by the geographers of antiquity to be the home of so 
many wonders and monsters. Russia, like the maritime nations 
of the West, had discovered a new world. 

The cultivated provinces of Central Russia were more im- 
portant than the deserts of the North. Here there were no im- 
mense territories to be conquered, but only the territories of the 
smaller appanaged princes to be grafted on to the already united 
mass. Ivan III. might have dethroned the young Prince of 
Riazan, whom his father had brought to Moscow, but he preferred 
to give him the hand of his sister, Anne Vassilievna, and send 
him back to his territories (1464). The absorption of the prin- 
cipalities of Riazan and Novgorod-Severski was reserved for his 
successor. He showed the same moderation about Tver, but in 
1482 Prince Michael, who had only maintained his position on 
sufferance, had the imprudence to ally himself with Lithuania. 
Ivan hailed this pretext with joy, and marched in person against 
Tver, accompanied by the celebrated Arislotele Fioraventi of 
Bologna, grand master of his artillery. Michael took to flight; 
and Ivan began to organize his new subjects. A principality 
which could furnish 40,000 soldiers was united to Moscow without 
a blow. In like manner he obtained possession of Vereia and 
of Bielozersk, and deprived the princes of Rostof and laroslavl 
of their ancient rights of sovereignty. 

His father, by giving appanages to his brothers, had prepared 
for him a new and ungrateful task, but Ivan undertook it without 
Scruple. When his brother louri died, he wept much for him, 
but at once laid hands on his towns of Dmitrof, Mojaisk, and 


Serpoukhof, thereby causing his other brothers, who hoped to 
share the spoil, great discontent (1468). Andrew was accused 
of an understanding with Lithuania, and thrown into prison, 
where he died (1493). The Grand Prince convoked the Metro- 
politan and bishops to his palace, appeared before them with 
downcast eyes, his face sorrowful and bathed in tears, humbly 
accused himself of having been too cruel to his unhappy brother, 
and submitted to their pastoral admonitions ; but he confiscated 
Andrew's appanage notwithstanding, and that of his brother Boris, 
who died a short time after, thus reuniting all the domains of his 
father. He acquired the surname of " Binder of the Russian 
Land," a name which his eight predecessors equally merited. It 
was owing to their earlier labors that Ivan was able to become 
the greatest and most powerful of these " Binders." He avoided 
their errors, and if later he gave appanages to his own children, 
it was only on condition that they should remain subjects of their 
eldest brother, and that they should neither have the right to 
coin money nor to exercise a separate diplomacy. 



The empire of the Horde was at last dissolved. The principal 
States which had risen from its debris were the Tazarate of Kazan, 
that of Sarai or Astrakhan, the Horde of the Nogais, and the 
Khanate of the Crimea. Kazan and the Crimea particularly 
presented strange ethnographical amalgamations. The Tzarate 
of Kazan had been founded in the reign of Vassili the Blind on 
the ruins of the ancient Bulgaria on the Volga, formerly so 
flourishing and civilized, by a banished prince of the Horde. It 
was the same Makhmet who had tried to establish himself at 
Belef, and had defeated Chemiaka. The Mongols had mixed 
with the ancient Bulgars, and reconstituted an important centre 
of commerce and civilization. The rule of the Tzarate extended 
over the Finnish tribes of the Mordvians, the Tchouvaches, and 
the Tcheremisses, as well as the Bachkirs and Metcheraks. The 
Khanate of the Crimea had been founded almost at the same 
date, by a descendant of Genghis Khan, named Azi. A peasant 
named Ghirei having saved him from death, Azi added his bene- 
factor's name to his own, and henceforward the title belonged to 
all the khans of the Crimea. The Mongols, on arriving at the 
peninsula, found it occupied by the remains of the ancient Tauric, 
Hellenic, and Gothic races ; by Armenians, Jews, and Jewish 
Kharaites, who pretended to have settled B.C. 500 on the rocks 



and in the Troglodyte cities of Tchoufout-Kald and Mangoup- 
Kale, and finally by the Genoese of Kaffa. The Jews and 
Italians excepted, a large part of the ancient population was 
absorbed by the Asiatic invaders. Thus while the Tatars of the 
steppes of the Northern Crimea are pure Mongols, those of 
the mountains of the south seem to be chiefly Taurians, Goths, 
and Islamized Greeks. As to the great Horde of Sarai, that 
was almost entirely composed of nomads, such as the Nogais 
and other Turco-Tatar races. 

Anarchy and rivalry reigned in the heart of each of these 
States. The princes of Kazan, Sarai, and the Crimea came to 
seek an asylum from the Grand Prince, who made use of them to 
perpetuate these divisions. In 1473 Ivan constituted the town 
of Novgorod of Riazan into a fief for one Mustafa ; others served 
in the armies, and aided Ivan against Novgorod and Lithuania. 
Towards the khans and the tzars, especially those of the Great 
Horde or Sarai', the sovereign of Moscow held himself on the 
defensive, repelling the attacks of adventurers, but taking care 
not to provoke them ; avoiding the payment of the tribute, but 
disposed to send them presents. At the same time he schemed 
for alliances against the Khan of Sarai, and despatched to the 
Turkoman Oussoum-Hassan, master of Persia and enemy of the 
Mongols, his Italian ambassador, Marco Ruffo (1477). A more 
solid friendship united him with Mengli-Ghirei, Khan of the 
Crimea, and lasted all their lives. Mengli was as serviceable to 
him against Lithuania as against the Horde. 

In 1478, having carefully taken all his measures, he openly 
rebelled. When the Khan Akhmet sent his ambassadors with 
his image to receive the tribute, Ivan III. trampled the image 
of the Khan under his feet, and put all the envoys to death, ex- 
cepting one, who conveyed the news to the Horde. This act, 
so very little in accordance with the well-known prudence of 
Ivan, is not to be found in all the chronicles. When Akhm«t 
took the field, Ivan occupied a strong position on the Oka, with 
a more numerous and better-organized army than that of Dmitri 
Donskoi. His 150,000 men and powerful artillery did not, how- 
ever, prevent him from reflecting much on the hazard of battles. 
He even returned to reflect at Moscow, and it needed all the 
clamors of the people to induce him to leave it. " What ! " ex- 
claimed the Muscovites, " he has overtaxed us, and refused to 
pay tribute to the Horde, and now that he has irritated the 
Khan, he declines to fight ! " Ivan wished to consult his mother, 
his boyards, and his bishops. " March bravely against the 
enemy," was the unanimous reply. " Is it the part of mortals 
to fear death ? " said old Archbishop Vassian. " We cannot 


escape destiny." Ivan desired, at least, to send his young son 
Ivan back to Moscow, but the prince heroically disobeyed. 
The Grand Prince finally decided to return to the army, blessed 
by his mother and the Metropolitan, who promised him the 
victory as to a David or to a Constantine, reminding him that 
"a gcod shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep," Ivan, 
who did not feel himself made of the stuff of a Constantine, kept 
his army immovable on the Oka and the Ougra ; the two forces 
contenting themselves with sending arrows and insults across 
the river. Ivan closed his ears to the warlike counsel of his 
boyards, and rather listened to the prudent advice of his two 
favorites — " fat and powerful lords," says the chronicle. How- 
ever, he refused the proposition of the Khan, who offered to 
pardon him if he would either come himself or send one of his 
men to kiss his stirrup. At last monks and white-haired bishops 
lost all patience. Vassian addressed a bellicose letter to the 
Grand Prince, invoking the memories of Igor, Sviatoslaf, of 
Vladimir Monomachus, and Dmitri Donskoi. Ivan assured him 
that this letter *' filled his heart with joy, courage, and strength ; 
but another fortnight passed in inaction. On the fifteenth day 
the rivers were covered with ice ; the Grand Prince gave the 
order to retreat. An inexplicable panic seized the two armies 
— Russians and Tatars both fled, when no man pursued. The 
Khan never stopped till he reached the Horde (1480). Such 
was the last invasion of the horsemen of the Kiptchak. It was 
in this unheroic way that Russia broke at last the Mongol yoke 
under which she had groaned for three centuries. Like Louis 
XL, Ivan III. had his battle of Montlhery ; but if he fought less, 
he gained far more. The Horde, attacked by the Khans of the 
Crimea, survived its decay but a short time. Akhmet was put 
to death by one of his own men. 

Hostility increased between Kazan and Moscow. In 1467 
and 1469 Ivan III. had organized two expeditions against Bul- 
garia. In 1487, seven years after having shaken off the suprem- 
acy of the Great Horde, the Muscovite voievodes marched 
against the same Kazan, where the father of their Grand Prince 
had been held a captive. After a siege of seven weeks the city 
was taken, and the sovereign Alegam made prisoner. A tzar of 
Kazan was then seen a prisoner in Moscow ! Ivan III. added 
the title of Prince of Bulgaria to those he already bore ; but 
feeling that the Mussulman city was not yet ripe for annexation, 
he gave the crown to a nephew of his friend the Khan of the 
Crimea. The people were forced to take the oath of fidelity to 
him. The conquest of the land of Arsk, in Bulgaria itself, and 
the establishment of a Russian garrison in the fortress, allowed 


him to watch from close by all that passed in Kazan. The Khan 

of the Crimea did not care to protest against the captivity of 
the Tzar Alegam, his nephew's enemy, but the princes of the 
Chiban and the Nogais, who were related to him, and who be- 
held Islamism humiliated in his person, despatched an embassy 
to the Grand Prince. The latter refused to release his prisoner, 
but replied so graciously that the envoys could hardly be angry. 
He sent to those zealous kinsmen clothes of Flanders, fishes' 
teeth, and gerfalcons, and did not forget the wives of the mour- 
zas, whom he called his sisters. At the same time, wishing to 
make these Asiatics feel that times had changed, he took care 
never personally to compromise himself with the Nogai envoys, 
and only to communicate with them by means of treasurers, 
secretaries, and other officers of the second rank. 



Lithuania and Poland united remained, after all, Ivan's 
great enemy. This composite State plays the same part in 
Russian history as the Burgundy of Philip the Good and Charles 
the Bold in that of France. Made up in a great degree of Rus- 
sian as well as of Polish and Lithuanian elements, it was many 
times on the point of annihilating Russia, in the same way as 
Burgundy, composed of French, Batavian, and German prov- 
inces, had been on the point of annihilating the French nation. 
Lithuania was incorporated with Poland in the same manner as 
the States of Burgundy, unfortunately for France, were incor- 
porated with Austria. 

At the beginning of Ivan's reign the King Casimir IV. was 
sovereign of the two united States, and neglected no means of 
disquieting the Grand Prince. The latter, on his part, incited 
his ally Mengli to invade the Lithuanian possessions ; and the 
Crimean Tatars pillaged Kief and the Monastery of the Cata- 
combs (1482). When, ten years after, Casimir died (1492), 
leaving Poland to his eldest son Albert, and Lithuania to Alex- 
ander, the second son, Ivan III. resolved to turn the division 
to account. He had obtained the friendship of the Turkish 
Sultan Bajazet II., of Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, of 
the active Stephen of Moldavia, the determined enemy of the 
Lithuanians ; but, above all, he counted on Mengli. Mengli had 
held Lithuania in check while Ivan had got rid of the Mongols ; 
now he was to play the same part with the Horde, while the 
Grand Prince settled old scores with Alexander, but without in- 
terfering with the Tatar incursions in the Ukraine. The dis- 
Vol. 1 Russia 8 



covery at Moscow of a Polish plot against the life of the Grand 
Prince spread rumors of war. In the same way that he had 
been able to utilize the Mongol refugees against the Horde, he 
found the Lithuanian princes and other great personages enter- 
ing into relations with him. It was then that Belski, afterwards 
so famous, obtained a footing in Russia, that the Prince of Ma- 
zovia sent an embassy to Ivan III., and the princes of Viazma, 
Vorotinsk, Belef, and Mezetsk did him homage. 

The war was popular in Moscow, for its object was to break 
the yoke imposed by the Polish Catholics on the orthodox Rus- 
sian people. In White Russia the Muscovites were to awake 
old national and religious sympathies. " Lithuania," said the 
ambassadors of Ivan III. to the plenipotentiaries of Alexander, 
" Lithuania has profited by the misfortunes of Russia to take 
our territory, but to-day things have changed." Peace was made 
after a short war (1494). The frontier of Muscovy was carried 
to the Desna, and comprehended the appanages of the princes 
who had taken service with Ivan, with Mstislavl, Obolensk, 
Kozelsk, Vorotinsk, Peremysl, &c. 

The peace seemed to be cemented by the marriage of Alex- 
ander with Helena, daughter of Ivan III. ; but, on the contrary, 
this union proved the germ of a new war. The sovereign of 
Moscow had stipulated that his daughter was under no circum- 
stances to change her religion, that she was to have a Greek 
chapel in the palace, and an orthodox almoner. Ivan himself 
gave his daughter the most pressing injunctions never to appear 
in the Catholic church, and gave her minute directions as to her 
toilet, her table, her mode of travelling, and her way of con- 
ducting herself towards her new subjects. At her departure he 
bestowed on her a collection of various pious books. His policy 
agreed with his conviction ; it was necessary that in Lithuania 
orthodoxy should raise her lowered head, and reign with his 
daughter. Soon afterwards, he complained that Helena was 
forced to offend her conscience, that she was made to wear the 
Polish costume, that her domestics and orthodox almoners were 
dismissed, and their places filled with Catholics — that the Greek 
religion was persecuted, that the assassination of the Metropoli- 
tan of Kief had remained unpunished, and that he was to be 
succeeded by a man devoted to the Pope. Lithuania, at the 
beginning of the war, was further enfeebled by new defections. 
The princes of Bielsk, of Mossalsk, of Khotatof, the boyards 
of Mtsensk and of Serpeisk, and finally the princes of Tcherni- 
gof and Starodoub, of Rylsk and Novgorod-Severski, declared 
for the Grand Prince of Moscow. All the country between the 
Desna and the Soja passed into the hands of the Russians, to- 







gather with Briansk, Poutivle, and Dorogbouge. They had only 
to show themselves to conquer. Alexander could not abandon 
the conquests of Olgerd, Vitovt, and Gedimin without striking a 
blow, but his army was cut to pieces at the battle of Vedrocha. 
Constantine Ostrojski, his voievode, fell into the hands of the 
Muscovites, who tried to gain him over to their cause. The 
Lithuanians, however, kept the strongholds of Vitepsk, Polotsk, 
Orcha and Smolensk. 

This prolonged struggle between Alexander and Ivan III. 
had set all Eastern Europe in a blaze. Alexander had made 
an alliance with the Livonian Order and the Great Horde. 
The Khan of the Crimea pitilessly devastated Gallicia and 
Volhynia. The Russian troops again defeated the Lithuanians 
near Mstislavl, but were forced to raise the siege of Smo- 
lensk. In the north, the Grand Prince of Moscow had 
stopped the Germans of Livonia from building the fortress of 
Ivangorod opposite Narva, and had seized the Hanseatic wares 
at Novgorod. The Grand Master, Hermann of Plettenberg, re- 
sponded with joy to the appeal of the Lithuanians ; and at the 
battle of Siritsa, near Izborsk, his formidable German artillery 
crushed an army of 40,000 Russians (1501). The latter took 
their revenge the following vear on the iron men near Pskof. 
Schig-Akhmet, Kahn of the Great Horde, wished to make a 
diversion, but the Khan of the Crimea attacked him with fury, 
and in 1502 so completely extinguished his rule, that the ruins 
of Sarai, the capital of Bati, where the Russian princes had 
grovelled before the khans, were henceforward a home of 

Alexander had just been elected King of Poland, and wished 
to finish this ruinous war. The celebrated Pope, Alexander 
VI., and the King of Hungary tried to mediate between the bel- 
ligerent powers. As, however, neither of the two parties would 
abate any of their pretensions, a truce of six years only could 
be agreed on, during which time the Soja was to be the boun- 
dary, and the territories and towns of the princes who had gone 
over to Russia were to be abandoned to her (1503). What 
shows the good faith of Ivan III. is that, after the truce was 
signed, he obtained the promise from the Khan of the Crimea 
to continue his attacks against Lithuania. 


The acquisition of the Novgorodian possessions and the ap- 
panages, the capture of Kazan, the fall of the Horde, and the 

, 7 2 HIS TOR Y OF R US SI A. 

conquest of Lithuania up to the Soja, had doubled the extent of 
the Grand Principality, even without reckoning the immense 
territory it had gained on the north. An event not less impor- 
tant in its consequences was the marriage of Ivan III. with a 
Byzantine princess. Thomas Palaeologus, a brother of the last 
Emperor, had taken refuge at the court of Rome. There he 
died, leaving a daughter named Sophia, The Pope wished to 
find her a husband, and the Cardinal Bessarion, who belonged 
to the Eastern Rite, advised Paul II. to offer her hand to the 
Grand Prince of Russia. A Greek named louri, and the two 
Friazini, relations of Friazine, minter of Ivan III., were sent 
on an embassy to Moscow. Ivan and his boyards accepted the 
proposal with enthusiasm ; it was God, no doubt, who had given 
him so illustrious a wife ; " a branch of the imperial tree which 
formerly overshadowed all orthodox Christianity." Sophia — 
dowered by the Pope, whose heart was always occupied with 
two things, the crusade against the Turks, and the re-union of 
the two Churches— went from Rome to Liibeck, from Liibeck 
by sea to Revel, and was received in triumph at Pskof, Novgo- 
rod, and the other towns subject to Moscow. This daughter of 
emperors was destined to have an enormous influence on Ivan. 
It was she, no doubt, who taught him to " penetrate the secret 
of autocracy." She bore the Mongol yoke with less patience 
than the Russians, who were accustomed to servitude. She 
incited Ivan to shake it off. " How long am I to be the slave 
of the Tatars ? " she would often ask. With Sophia a multitude 
of Greek emigrants came to Moscow, not only from Rome, but 
from Constantinople and Greece ; among them were Demetrios 
Ralo, Theodore Lascaris, Demetrios Trakhaniotes. They gave 
to Russia statesmen, diplomatists, engineers, artists and theolo- 
gians. They brought her Greek books, the priceless inherit 
ance of ancient civilization. These manuscripts were first be 
ginnings of the present " Library of the Patriarchs." 

Ivan III. was the heir of the Emperors of Byzantium and 
the Roman Caesars. He took for the new arms of Russia the 
two-headed eagle which in its archaic form is still to be found 
in the " Palais k facettes " of the Kremlin. Moscow succeeded 
to Byzantium as Byzantium had succeeded to Rome. Having 
become the only metropolis of orthodoxy, it was incumbent on 
her to protect the Greek Christians of the entire East, and to 
prepare the revenge against Islamism for the work of 1453. 
With the Greeks came Italians : Aristotele Fioraventi of Bologna, 
who was Ivan III.'s architect, military engineer, and master of 
artillery ; Marco Ruffo, his ambassador in Persia ; Pietro 



Antonio, who built his imperial palace ; the metal-founder, Paul 
Bossio, besides architects and arquebusiers. 

Ivan entered into relations with Venice when Trevisani, en- 
voy of the republic, on his way to the Horde, tried to traverse 
incognito the States of the Grand Prince, and was arrested and 
condemned to death. The Senate interfered, and the imprudent 
diplomatist was set at liberty. Ivan sent in his turn a Russian 
ambassador, Simeon Tolbouzine, charged to bind the two coun. 
tries in friendly ties, and to bring back some skilful architect 
from Italy. He was followed in 1499 by Demetrius Ralo and 
Golokhvastof. Contarini, the Venetian ambassador, returned 
from Persia with a French ecclesiastic named Louis, who called 
himself envoy of the Duke of Burgundy, and the Patriarch of 
Antioch, He stopped at Moscow, and was kindly received by 
Ivan. He himself was much struck by the Grand Prince. " When, 
in speaking, I respectfully stepped back," relates Contarini, 
"the Grand Prince always drew near, and gave particular at- 
tention to my remarks." Ivan III, — whether to secure himself 
allies against Poland, or to obtain from Germany artists and 
handicraftsmen — exchanged more than one embassy with 
Frederic III. and Maximilian of Austria, Matthias of Hungary, 
and the Pope. When attacked by Sweden, he nogotiated an 
alliance with Denmark. Plehtcheef was the first Russian am- 
bassador at Constantinople under Bajazet II. From the East 
came envoys of Georgia and even of Djagatai (Turkestan and 
Tatar Siberia). 

The prince who, born vassal of a nomad race, founded the 
greatness of Russia, may be compared with one of the greatest 
of French kings, Louis XI. What the latter accomplished in 
the case of appanaged feudalism, Ivan succeeded in doing in 
that of appanaged principalities. He was pitiless towards the 
smaller Russian dynasties, as the King of France was to Armagnac 
or Saint Pol. He detached a slice from Lithuania, as his Western 
contemporary managed to dismember Burgundy. He put an 
end to the Mongol invasions, as Louis did to the English wars. 
He repulsed, without striking a blow, the last incursion of the 
khans, as Louis XI. sweetly dismissed the last embarkation of 
the English under Edward IV. Both had the same taste for 
foreigners, especially industrious Italians, and for useful arts. 
Both explored the metallic riches of their States. They each 
created a diplomacy ; the one by means of Comynes, the other 
by means of Greeks, and Russians as supple as Greeks. They 
strengthened the national army, and gave it a permanent char- 
acter ; they both owed the success against the minor princes to 


their artillery. Ivan III. had his brothers Bureau in Aristotele 

Louis XL, who wished to put an end to the anarchy of the 
law and to the thefts of chicanery, meditated a real code, or 
grand coshwiier, which would put the old laws in harmony with 
the new order of things. This is precisely what Ivan did in his 
Oulogefiia (1497). In comparing it with the Rousskaia Pravda 
of laroslaf, we are able to gauge the amount of change caused 
in the national laws by the influence of Byzantium, the example 
of the Tatars, and the progress of autocracy. Corporal penalties 
have notably increased : for homicide, death ; for theft, whipping 
in a public place. Torture was making its way in the procedure. 
The judicial duel was still admitted, only now it could hardly 
become mortal; each of the combatants had a cuirass, and was 
armed only with a short club. Women, minors, and ecclesiastics 
were represented by a champion. In the same way as the end 
and aim of the policy' of Ivan was the suppression of appanages, 
that of his code was to efface the privileges, the legal and judi- 
cial peculiarities of the different provinces. 

For three generations the throne had been inherited in the 
direct line. When, however, Ivan, eldest son of Ivan III., died, 
the latter hesitated long between his grandson Dmitri Ivanovitch, 
and his second son Vassili. His wife supported Vassili ; his 
daughter-in-law Helena, Ivan's widow, her own son. The court 
was divided, and both parties were absorbed in their intrigues. 
Ivan III. at first proclaimed Dmitri, threw Vassili in prison, 
and disgraced his wife. Then he changed his mind, imprisoned 
his daughter-in-law and his grandson in their turn, and pro- 
claimed Vassili his heir. The hereditary right of the West was 
not established in Russia without many struggles. 





Reunion of Pskof, Riazan, and Xovgorod-Severski — Wars with Lithuania 
— Acquisition of Smolensk — Wars with the Tatars — Diplomatic relations 
with Europe. 



The reign of Vassili Ivanovitch may seem somewhat pale 
between those of the two Ivans — the two " Terribles" — his 
father and son. It was likewise of shorter duration, lasting only 
twenty-eight years (1505-1533), but was the continuation of the 
one, and the preparation for the other : the movement which 
was bearing Russia towards unity and autocracy was not re- 
tarded under Vassili Ivanovitch. 

There were still three States which had preserved a certain 
independence — the Republic of Pskof, and the Principalities of 
Riazan and Novgorod-Severski. The quarrels still continued at 
Pskof between the citizens and the peasants, the aristocracy and 
the lower classes. The whole of Pskof was in conflict with her 
nameistnik, or the royal lieutenant. Vassili came to hold his 
court at Novgorod, and summoned the magistrates of Pskof to 
appear before him. When they arrived, he arrested them. A 
merchant of Pskof, who was on his way to Novgorod, returned 
with the news to his compatriots. Instantly the bell of the 
vetche began to ring, and the cry was heard, " Let us raise the 
shield against the Grand Prince. Let us shut the gates of the 
town." The more prudent tried to restrain the people. " What 
can we do ? Our brothers, our magistrates, our boyards, and all 
our chief men are in the hands of the Prince." The imprisoned 
Pskovians sent a messenger to implore their fellow-citizens not 
to attempt a useless resistance, and to avoid the shedding of 
blood. The latter then despatched one of their number to the 
Grand Prince, and charged him to say, " My lord, we are not 
your enemies. After God, it is you that have power over all 



your subjecis." Vassili Ivanovitch sent them one of his diaks, 
or secretaries, who was admitted into the assembly of the citi- 
zens, saluted them in the name of the Grand Prince, and informed 
them that his master imposed on them two conditions : the first 
was that the towns subject to Pskof should receive his ma/iiest- 
niks ; the second was the suppression of the vetche and its bell. 
For a long while they could give him no answer — their sobs and 
tears choked them. At last they demanded twenty-four hours 
to deliberate. The day and night passed in lamentations. 
" The infants at the breast," says the annalist, " alone could re- 
frain from tears." Next day the people met for the last time, 
and the first magistrate of the city thus spoke to Dalmatof, diak 
of the Grand Prince : " It is written in our Chronicles that our 
ancestors took oaths to the Grand Prince. The Pskovians swore 
never to rebel against our lord who is at Moscow, never to ally 
themselves with Lithuania, with Poland, nor with the Germans, 
otherwise the wrath of God would be upon them, bringing with 
it famine, fires, floods, and the invasion of the infidels. If the 
Grand Prince, on his part, did not observe his vow, he dared the 
same consequences. Now our town and our bell are in the 
power of Grod and the prince. As for us, we have kept our 
oath." Dalmatof had the great bell, symbol of the independence 
of the republic, taken down, and carried to Novgorod, amid the 
general despair. Then Vassili Ivanovitch came to visit his " pat- 
rimony of Pskof." He installed his men and boyards in the 
npper town, transplanted 300 families of the aristocracy into the 
cities of the interior, and established 300 Muscovite families in 
their place. When he went away, he left a garrison of 5000 
dietiboyarski^, and 500 Novgorod artillerymen (15 10). "Alas ! " 
cries the annalist, " glorious city of Pskof the Great, wherefore 
this lamentation and tears ? " And the noble city of Pskof 
replies : " How can I but weep and lament ? An eagle, a many- 
winged eagle, with claws like a lion, has swooped down upon 
me. He has taken captive the three cedars of Lebanon — my 
beauty, my riches, my children ! Our land is a desert, our city 
ruined, our commerce destroyed. Our brothers have been car- 
ried away to a place where our fathers never dwelt, nor our 
grandfathers, nor our great-grandfathers." 

Ivan, prince of Riazan, was accused about 1521 of having 
made an alliance with the Khan of the Crimea. He was sum- 
moned to Moscow, and imprisoned. He managed to escape into 
Lithuania, where he died in obscurity. This fertile country, 
whose rich harvests "looked like waving forests," was united to 
the Grand Principalit}'. A certain number of Riazanese were 
transported to Muscovite soil. Vassili Chemiakine reigned at 



Novgorod-Severski ; he was the grandson of the Chemiaka who 
had put out the eyes of VassiU Vassilievitcli. About 1523 he 
was thrown into prison, on the accusation of an understanding 
with Poland, where he died. There was now only one Russia. 
A jester of the Grand Prince had predicted the fall of the last 
appanaged prince. He had gone through the streets of Moscow 
armed with a broom, crying " that it was time to clean the em- 
pire of what remained of this ordure." Vassili, like the most of 
his predecessors, had little tenderness for his family. His 
nephew Dmitri, whom his grandfather had for a moment des- 
tined to occupy the throne, and who by Western laws was the 
rightful heir, died in prison. One of Vassili's brothers, feeling 
the yoke press too heavily on him, tried to escape, but was 
brought back. 

The son of Ivan the Great continued the struggle with 
Lithuania. He had attempted, at the death of Alexander, to 
get himself nominated Grand Prince of Wilna, and the recon- 
ciliation- of Muscovite and Lithuanian Russia would have 
changed the destinies of the North. Sigismond L reunited the 
two crowns of Wilna and Poland. An unimportant war ended 
in 1506 by a "perpetual peace,"' and Vassili renounced all 
claims on Kief and Smolensk. The perpetual peace lasted three 
years, which were filled by the recriminations of the two parties. 
Vassili accused Sigismond of never having sent back all the 
prisoners, of pillaging the Muscovite merchants, of maltreating 
the widow of Alexander, daughter of Ivan III.; of tempting 
Simeon, Vassili's brother, to fly to Poland ; and of inciting the 
Crimean Tatars to ravage Russia. He declared that " as long 
as his horse was in marching condition, and his sword cut sharp, 
there should be neither peace nor truce with Lithuania." 
Smolensk was instantly attacked ; part of her inhabitants were 
on the side of Russia, and offered to submit to the Grand Prince. 
A volley of artillery knocked down the ramparts of her Kremlin, 
which towers over the Dnieper. The Polish voievode was com- 
pelled by the people to capitulate. " Spare your patrimony," 
said they to the Grand Prince. The Bishop of Smolensk blessed 
Vassili, and the inhabitants took the oaths of fidelity to him 
(1514). "The taking of Smolensk," says a Russian chronicler, 
" was like a brilliant frte-day for Russia ; for the capture of the 
property of another can only flatter an ambitious prince, but to 
gain possession of what is one's own is ever a cause of joy." 
^lany of the Lithuanians, however, remained undecided ; the 
name of Russia and of orthodoxy brought them into communion 
with Moscow, but the Muscovites appeared very barbarous by 
the side of the Poles, and their turbulent nobility were better 


suited to Polish anarchy than to Russian autocracy. A Glinski, 
one of a PodoUan family, who went over to Vassili at this time, 
played the traitor. Constantine Ostrojski, whom Vassili had 
tried to gain over to the cause of orthodoxy, fled from Moscow : 
and it was he who, in 1514, inflicted on the Russian voiievodes 
the bloody defeat of Orcha. " The next day," says Karamsin, 
"he celebrated the victory that he had won over a people of 
the same religion as himself, and it was in the Russian tongue 
that he gave thanks to God for having destroyed the Russians." 
Even the contemporaries felt vaguely that a struggle between 
Lithuanian Russia and Moscow was a kind of civil war. Had 
not Vassili tried to unite the two principalities ? 

As in the time of Ivan III., the duel of the two States made 
itself felt throughout Europe, and occasioned a great diplo- 
matic movement. Now, Sigismond had the Tatars of the Crimea 
on his side ; Vassili opposed them with the Tatars of Astra- 
khan. Sigismond reckoned on Sweden. Vassili negotiated with 
Denmark. The King had gained over to his cause the Dnieper 
Cossacks, whose name already began to be heard in history, and 
who had been powerfully organized by Dachkovitch, But Vassili 
secured the friendship of the Teutonic Order, who even con- 
sented to invade Polish Prussia ; of Maximilian of Austria, who 
signed a treaty of partition of the Polish territory ; of the Hos- 
podar of Wallachia ; and finally of the Sultan Selim, to whom he 
sent embassy after embassy. Negotiations were set on foot in 
consequence of the defeat of Constantine Ostrojski before 
Smolensk, in the battle of Opotchka. Maximilian of Austria 
undertook the office of mediator ; his ambassador, Herberstein, 
the same who has left us the curious book entitled ' Rerura 
Moscovitarum Commentarii,' promised that Vassili should cede 
Smolensk, and quoted to him the disinterestedness of King 
Pyrrhus and other great men of antiquity. Pope Leo X. inter- 
vened without greater success, though he counselled Vassili to 
leave Lithuania alone, and to turn his thoughts to Constantinople, 
the inheritance of his mother, Sophia Palaeologus. At last in 
1522, the negotiations opened and terminated in the truce of 
1526. Vassili pronounced a discourse on the subject, in which 
he expressed his friendship for his noble mediators, the Pope, 
the Emperor, and the Archduke of Austria (Clement VII., Charles 
v., and Ferdinand), but Russia kept Smolensk. 


The Tatars were still dangerous. Mengli-Ghirei, the ancient 
ally of Ivan III., had declared for Lithuania against Vassili, 



Perhaps the old Khan might have lost the authority necessary 
to restrain his sons and mourzas, who only wished to pillage the 
Russian territory. Under his successor, Makhmet Ghirei, the 
Crimea became a deadly enemy of Russia. Kazan, on expelling 
\}i\Q. protege oi Ivan \\.\., had elected a prince hostile to Moscow. 
Two expeditions directed against the rebel city failed completely. 
At the death of the Tzar of Kazan, the principality became the 
apple of discord between the Khan of the Crimea and the 
Grand Prince. The Russians, however, had succeeded, and 
installed their client, Schig-Alei, a Mussulman brutalized by idle- 
ness and pleasures, whose enon ;ous stomach gave him a gro- 
tesque appearance ; but he was overthrown by the intrigues of the 
Khan of the Crimea, and a kinsman of the Ghirei was placed on 
the throne. In support of their candidate, the Taurians pre- 
pared, in 1521, a great invasion of Russia. They crushed the 
Russian voievodes on the banks of the Oka, ravaged the Grand 
Principality, looked on Moscow from the Hill of Sparrows, and 
made themselves drunk with hydromel found in the cellars of 
the Grand Prince. At the Kremlin there was a formidable array 
of artillery, but no powder. Herberstein assures us that the 
powerful son of Ivan III. humiliated himself, as in the time of 
Ivan Kalita, to save his capital, sent presents to the Khan, and 
signed a treaty by which he professed himself his tributary ; but 
that in his retreat, Makhmet Ghirei was received with cannon- 
balls by the vo'ievode of Riazan, who took from him the humiliat- 
ing treaty. Though the Russian honor was saved by the can- 
nonade of Riazan, this invasion cost Russia dear. All the flat 
country was a prey to the flames. A multitude of people, es- 
pecially women and children, had been carried off by the bar- 
barians. Many perished on the journey ; the rest were sold in 
whole troops in the markets of Kaffa and Astrakhan. The 
following year Vassili assembled on the Oka a formidable army, 
with an imposing artillery, and sent a challenge to the Khan of the 
Crimea summoning him to accept an honorable fight in the open 
country. The Tatar answered that he knew the way to Russia, 
and never consulted his enemies as to when he was to fight. A 
short time after, Makhmet conquered the Tzarate of Astrakhan, 
but was assassinated by Mamai, Prince of the Nogais. 

The Tatars of the Crimea were, thanks to the vast southern 
steppes, nearly beyond Russian enterprises ; but it was still 
possible to attain Kazan. In order to profit by the dissensions 
of the Hordes of the South, two new expeditions were fitted out 
in 1523 and 1524 against this town, but both were unsuccessful. 
Vassili discovered a more certain way of ruining his enemies — he 
established a fair at Makarief on the Volga, and by this means 

1 8 o ^^S TORY OF R USSIA. 

destroyed that of Kazan, It was this fair of Makarief that was 
afterwards transported to Nijni-Novgorod, and draws more than 
100,000 strangers from Europe and Asia. 

Day by day Russia took a more important place in Europe. 
Vassili exchanged embassies with all the sovereigns of the West, 
except those of France and England. He was the correspon- 
dent of Leo X. and Clement VII.; of Maximilian and Charles 
V. ; of Gustavus Vasa, founder of a new dynasty ; of Sultan Selim, 
conqueror of Egypt ; and of Suleiman the Magnificent. In the 
East, the Great Mogul of India, Baber, descendant of Tamerlane, 
sought his friendship. Autocracy daily became stronger. 
Vassili governed without consulting his council of boyards. 
" Moltchi smerd!" (Be silent, rustic !) he said one day to a 
great lord, who dared to raise an objection. Prince Vassili 
Kholmaski, who was married to one of his sisters, was thrown 
into prison for indocility. The boyard Beklemychef having 
complained that " the Grand Prince decided all the questions 
alone, shut up, with two others, in his bed-chamber," had his 
head cut off. The Metropolitan Varlaam was deposed and ban- 
ished to a monastery. Herberstein asserts already, that no 
European sovereign is obeyed like the Grand Prince of Moscow. 
This growing power was manifested externally by the splendor 
of the court, which naturally did not preclude the worst barbaric 
taste. In the reception of his ambassadors, Vassili displayed 
unheard-of luxury ; many hundreds of horsemen accompanied 
him when he hunted. The throne of the Prince was guarded 
by young nobles, the ryndis, with their head-dresses of high caps 
of white fur, dressed in long caftans of white satin, armed with 
silver hatchets. The lists of his masters of the horse, his cup- 
bearers, chamberlains, &c., are already very long. Strangers 
continued, though in small numbers, to come to Moscow. The 
most illustrious of them was Maximus, surnamed the Greek, a 
monk of Mount Athos, and a native of Arta, in Albania. In his 
youth he had studied at Venice and at Florence, and been the 
friend of Lascaris and Aldus Manutius. He had remained the 
sincere admirer of Savonarola. Vassili had sent for him with 
other Greeks to translate the Greek books into Slavonic, and 
put his library in order. Maximus is said to have been astonished 
to find in the Kremlin such a large number of ancient manu- 
scripts ; he vowed that neither Italy nor in Greece was to be 
found such a rich collection. After having finished the trans- 
lation of the Psalter, he wished to return to Mount Athos. 
Vassili retained him, made him his favorite, and often granted 
him the lives of condemned boyards. His works, his science, 
as well as his favor, gained him the hatred of ignorant and fan- 


atical monks. The Metropolitan Daniel declared against him. 
When Vassili repudiated against her will his wife Solomonia, 
because of her sterility, the philosopher, it seems, ventured to 
blame the prince, who then abandoned him to his enemies. 
Denounced before an ecclesiastical tribunal, accused of heresy 
and of false interpretation of the sacred books, he was banished 
to a monastery at Tver. Later he obtained leave to retire to that 
of Troitsa, where there is still shown the tomb of the man who 
was, in Russia, one o£ the apostles of the Renaissance. 



IVAN THE TERRIBLE (1533-1584.) 

Minority of Ivan IV. — He takes the title of Tzar (1547) — Conquest of Kazan 
(1552), and of Astrakhan (1554) — Contests with the Livonian Order, Po- 
land, the Tatars, Sweden, and the Russian aristocracy — The English in 
Russia — Conquest of Siberia. 


The role and the character of Ivan IV. have been and still are 
very differently estimated by Russian historians. Karamsin, who 
has not subjected to a criticism sufficiently severe the narratives 
and documents from which he has drawn his information, has 
seen in him a prince who was born cruel and vicious, but was 
miraculously brought back into the paths of virtue. Under the 
guidance of two excellent ministers he gave some years of 
repose to Russia ; then abandoning himself to his passions — 
astounded Europe and the empire with what the historian calls 
the " seven periods of massacres." M. Kostomarof supports the 
verdict of Karamsin. Another school represented byM. Solovief 
and M. Zabie'line, has shown more mistrust of the partial accounts 
■Ol Kourbski, leader of the oligarchic party, of Guagnini, courtier 
of the King of Poland, of Taube and Kruse, traitors to the sov- 
ereign whom they served. Above all, they have taken into con- 
sideration the time and the environment of Ivan the Terrible, 
This party concerns itself less with his morality as an individual, 
than with the part he played as the agent of the historical devel- 
opment of Russia. Did not the French historians for a while 
refuse to recognize the immense services rendered by Louis XL 
in the great work of consolidating the unity of France, and the 
creation of a modern State } He has been justified at last by 
an attentive examination of documents and facts. 

At the time that Ivan IV. succeeded his father, the struggle 
of the central power with the forces of the past had changed its 
character. The old Russian States which had for so long held 
in check the new power of Moscow — the principalities of Tver. 


Riazan, Souzdal and Novgorod-Severski — and the republics of 
Nuvgorod, Pskof, and Viatka, had lost their indej^endence ; 
their possessions had gone to swell those of Moscow. All North 
and East Russia is now united under the sceptre of the Grand 
Prince. To the perpetual contests with Tver, Riazan, and Nov- 
gorod succeed the great foreign wars ; the crusades against 
Lithuania, the Tatars, the Swedes, the Livonian knights. 

Precisely because the work of Great Russian unity was 
accomplished, the internal resistance to the authority of the 
Prince became stronger. The descendants of the princely 
families which had been dispossessed by money or force of arms, 
and the retainers of these ancient reigning houses, enlisted in 
the service of the master of Moscow. The Court of the latter 
was full of uncrowned nobles, Belskis, Chouiskis, Kourbskis, 
Vorotinskis, descendants of the appanaged princes, proud of the 
blood of Rurik which ran in their veins. Others sprang from 
GedJmin, the Lithuanian, or from baptized Tatar mourzas. All 
these, as well as the powerful boyards of Tver, Riazan, and 
Novgorod, became the boyards of the Grand Prince. There 
was oniv one Court for all to serve — that of Moscow. When 
Russia was divided into sovereign States, discontented boyards 
were free to change their master, to pass from the sei-vice of 
Tchernigof to that of Kief, or from the service of Souzdal to that 
of Novgorod. Now, where could they go ? Outside of Moscow 
there was nothing but foreign sovereigns, the enemies of Russia. 
To make use of the ancient right of changing your master, was to 
pass over to the enemy to be a traitor. To change and betray 
became synonyms. From the Russian word /bwfcv// (change) is 
derived the word izviic'nik (to betray). The Russian boyard could 
go neither to the Germans, to the Swedes, nor to the Tatars ; he 
could only go to the Grand Duke of Lithuania, but that was ex- 
actly the worst sort of change the blackest of treasons. The 
Prince of Moscow knew well that the war with Lithuania — that 
State which was Polish in the west, and exercised, by means of 
its Russian provinces in the east, a dangerous fascination on the 
subjects of Moscow — was a struggle for existence. Lithuania, 
was an internal as well as an external enemv, with links and svm- 
pathies with the heart of the Russian State, even in the palace 
of the Tzar himself, and her formidable hand is found in all in- 
trigues and conspiracies. The external struggle with Lithuania, 
and the internal struggle with the Russian oligarchy, are different 
phases of the same contest, the heaviest and most perilous of 
all sustained by the Grand Princes of Moscow. The dispos- 
sessed princes, the boyards of the ancier. independent States, 
had renounced the strife with Jjim on the battle-field, but they 


continued to combat his authority in his own Court. There are 
no more wars of States against State ; henceforth the war is 
intestine, that of oligarchy against autocracy. Resigned to 
being sovereign princes no longer, the boyard princes of 
Moscow were not yet content to be only subjects. ' The nar- 
rower area intensified the violence of the contest. The Court 
of Moscow was a fenced-in field, from which none could go 
out without changing the Muscovite for the Lithuanian master 
— without betraying. Hence the passionate character of the 
struggle between the two principles under Ivan IV. Besides, 
the sovereigns of Moscow who had destroyed, after so many 
efforts, the Russian States that held Moscow in check, com- 
mitted the same fault as the Capetians or the early Valois. In 
constituting appanages for the younger branches, they built up 
with one hand what they pulled down with the other ; to the sov- 
ereign princes of the nth century succeeded the princes of the 
blood the appanaged princes of the 15th and i6th centuries. 
These also had their domain, &c., their boyards, their dieti boy- 
^rj-/^/!? (men-at-arms.) They were the brothers, uncles, cousins of 
the Grand Prince, who became the chiefs of the vanquished 
oligarchy and organized the coalition of the forces of the past 
against him. They stood to him as the Capetians of Burgundy, 
Berri, Bourbon, and Orleans, stood to the Capetian kings, 
Charles VII., Louis XL, and Charles VIII. 

Vassili Ivanovitch left two sons, Ivan and louri, under the 
guardianship of his second wife, Helena Glinski. She had come 
into Russia with a family of Podolian nobles, proscribed by Sig- 
ismond, and accused of having plotted against his life. Helena 
Glinski had subdued her old husband Vassili, not only by her 
beauty, but by her free and attractive manners, an independence 
of spirit and character, and a variety of accomplishments not to 
be found among the Russian women of that day, condemned as 
they were to seclusion. She was almost a Western. Vassili 
was able to leave her, on his death-bed, with the guardianship 
of her sons, and the care of strengthening his work and that of 
his ancestors. This energetic woman knew how to put down all 
attempts of princely and oligarchic reaction against the autoc- 
racy of the Grand Prince. One of her husband's brothers, 
louri Ivanovitch, convicted of rebellion, was thrown into prison, 
where he died. Helena's own uncle, Michael Glinski, an am- 
bitious and turbulent Podolian, after having enjoyed her confi- 
dence for some time, was likewise arrested and died in confine- 
ment. Andrew Ivanovitch, another brother of the late Tzai, 
tried to escape into Poland to obtain the support of Sigismond ; 
he was stopped on the way, and imprisoned. Lithuania at- 


tempted to come to his aid, by taking up arms for the rebels of 
the interior. This unimportant war was ended in 1537 by a 
truce. The Tatars of Kazan and the Crimea suffered many de- 
feats ; and to place Moscow beyond the possibility of being 
seized by a coup de main, Helena enclosed with ramparts the 
quarter known by the name of Katai-gorod. As she could not 
entirely rely either on the boyards or on the princes, nor even 
on her own relations, she gave all her confidence to the master 
of the horse, Telepnef, whom the public voice charged with 
being her lover. A government as energetic against its internal 
as against its foreign enemies, gave little satisfaction to the oli- 
garchic party. In 1538 Helena died, the victim of poison. 

The boyards then took possession of the government, after 
having put to death the master of the horse, and imprisoned his 
sister Agrafena, Ivan's nurse. The chief power was disputed 
specially by two families — the Chouiskis and the Belskis. 
Russia became a prey to anarchy, the governments and the 
voievodies were given by turns to the creatures of these two 
families, and the people were cruelly oppressed ; the two 
factions even elevated and deposed at will the Metropolitan of 
Moscow. At last, Andrew Chouiski overthrew the government 
of the Belskis, and finally deposed the Metropolitan. 

Whilst the nobles were thus intriguing for the supreme 
power, Vassili's two sons were left by themselves. louri, the 
younger, was feeble in intellect, but Ivan, like Peter the Great, 
whom in many points he resembled, was a highly-gifted boy. 
He suffered keenly from the contempt in which his turbulent 
subjects held him. " We and our brother louri," he afterwards 
writes, " were treated like foreigners, like the children of beg- 
gars. We were ill-clothed, we were cold and hungry." They 
saw the boyards pillage the treasures and luxurious furniture of 
the palace ; Chouiski even threw himself in Ivan's presence on 
the bed of the late Tzar. The empire was plundered as well as 
the palace. "They wandered everywhere," continues Ivan IV., 
"in the towns and villages, cruelly tormenting the people, in- 
flicting all kinds of evils on them, exacting fines without mercy 
from the inhabitants. Of our subjects they have made their 
slaves; of their slaves, the nobles of the State." He had seen 
all whom he loved torn from him — his nurse Agrafena ; the 
master of the horse, Telepnef, who had been put to death ; and 
his favorite Voronzof, who was roughly handled and nearly 
killed by the boyards. It was enough for a courtier to take 
pains to please him, for him instantly to become an object of 
mistrust to the oligarchs. Ivan, like a neglected child, badly 
educated, never disciplined, had to be his own master. He read 


much, without method — the Bible, the Lives of the Saints, the 
Byzantine Chroniclers translated into Slavonic — whatever came 
in his way. Above all, he thought. He had imbibed from his 
reading a high idea of what it was to be a king, and knew well 
that he was the rightful master. These very boyards, so inso- 
lent towards him in private — did he not see them in public cer- 
emonials, at receptions of ambassadors, rival each other in af- 
fected respect and servility ? It was he who, seated on his 
throne, received the compliments of the foreign envoys ; his 
signature was necessary to give the force of law to actions the 
most contrary to his will. These were no vain forms, but in- 
volved real power. Ivan, however, dissembled. After the 
Christmas fetes of 1543, he suddenly summoned his boyards be- 
fore him, addressed them in a menacing tone, and reproached 
them sternly for their manner of governing. "There were 
among them," he added, " many guilty ones ; but this time he 
would content himself with making one example," He then 
ordered his guards to seize Andrew Chouiski, the chief of the 
government, and there and then had him torn to pieces by 
hounds. Some of the most turbulent and the most compro- 
mised were banished to distant towns. The author of this coup 
d^e'tat was thirteen years old. 

According to the invariable custom of Muscovite sovereigns, 
Ivan surrounded himself by his maternal relations, those on his 
father's side being naturally objects of suspicion. Then began 
what was called a vremia ; that is a seaso?i of favor," The rela- 
tives of the Prince, the men of the season (yremenchtchiki), the 
Glinskis, were charged to provide for the administration of the 
empire. In January 1547, Ivan ordered the Metropolitan 
Macarius to proceed with his coronation. He assumed at the 
ceremony not only the title of Grand Prince, but that of Tzar, 
The first title no longer answered to the new power of the sover- 
eign of Moscow, who counted among his domestics, princes and 
even Grand Princes. The name of Tzar is that which the books 
in the Slavonic language, ordinarily read by Ivan, give to the 
kings of Judaea, Assyria, Egypt, Babylon and to the emperors of 
Rome and Constantinople, Now, was not Ivan in some sort 
the heir of the Tzar Nebuchadnezzar, the Tzar Pharaoh, the 
Tzar Ahasuerus, and the Tzar David, since Russia was the sixth 
empire spoken of in the Apocalypse ? Through his grandmother 
Sophia Palaeologus, he was connected with the family of the 
Tzar of Byzantium ; through his ancestor Vladimir Monoma- 
chus, he belonged to the Porphyrogeniti ; and through Con- 
stantine the Great, to Caesar, If Constantinople had been the 
second, Moscow was the third Rome — living heir of th^ Eternal 


City. We may imagine what prestige was added to the dignity 
of the Russian sovereign by this dazzling title, borrowed from 
Biblical antiquity, from Roman majesty, from the orthodox sover- 
eigns .)i Byzantium. It recalled at the same time the recently, 
acquired freedom of Russia ; the Slavonic authors likewise 
bestowed this august title on the Mongol khans, suzerains of the 
Muscovite princes. Now that fortune smiled upon Russia, it 
well became her prince to call himself " Tzar." Shortly after, 
Ivan, whose deserted youth had been soiled by debauchery, 
confirmed his return to virtue by his marriage with Anastasia, of 
that family of Romanof whose future destiny was to be so bril- 
liant. His Court was increased by vre'menchtchiki chosen from 
the relatives of the Tzarlna. 

The vanquished party naturally would not consent to be set 
aside without a struggle for revenge. Fortune soon gave them 
an opportunity. For four years Ivan had governed absolutely, 
supported by his connections, the Glinskis and the Romanofs, 
and it was many years since Russia had been so tranquil. Sud- 
denly, in 1547, a terrible fire broke out and destroyed a great 
part of Moscow, and 1700 people perished. The Tzar took 
refuge at Vorobief, and thence contemplated with terror the 
destruction of his capital. An inquiry was made, and the boy- 
ards took advantage of it to insinuate to the people that it was 
the Glinskis who had burnt Moscow. " It is the Princess Anne 
Glinski," repeated voices among the crowd, " who, with her two 
sons, has made enchantments ; she has taken human hearts, 
and plunged them in water, and with this water has sprinkled 
the houses. This is the cause of the destruction of Moscow." 
The enraged multitude burst into the palace of the Glinskis. 
One of them, louri, was stabbed in the porch of the Assump- 
tion. Then the rioters proceeded to Vorobief, and demanded 
Ivan's uncle, the old Glinski. The sovereign's own life was in 
danger ; it was necessary to use force to disperse the rebels. 

The events which followed are unintelligible from the dram- 
atized recital of Karamsin, but very clear if we keep to the 
logic of facts. Ivan could hardly be ignorant who had raised 
this revolt, and he was not the man to give himself up to his 
ancient guardians. But his nervous, impressionable nature 
had been greatly struck by the spectacle under his eyes. Under 
the influence of this terror he examined his conscience, and 
resolved to amend his life. He took the priest Silvester, who 
had dwelt in his palace for nine years, and had a great reputa- 
tion for virtue, as his spiritual director ; he gave him at the 
same time the administration of ecclesiastical affairs. Alexis 
Adachef, one of the smaller nobility, was charged with receiving 


petitions, and the supervision of the interior and of the war. As 
loniT as the two new favorites confined themselves to their 
offices, the Court was tranquil. It was the happiest period of 
the reign of Ivan IV. The municipal administration was re- 
organized in the interior (155 1). A new code {SoudebniJi) was 
prepared, and a council assembled, whose hundred articles 
\Stoglaf) were occupied with Church reforms. In foreign affairs 
Russia conquered her ancient masters. 


The kingdom of Kazan continued to be distracted by two 
opposing influences — that of Russia and that of the Khan of the 
Crimea. The latter seemed the stronger, and Safa-Ghirei, can- 
d-date for the Crimea, distinguished his accession by ravaging 
the Russian territory ; the Khan supported him in these incur- 
sions by advancing with the whole Crimean horde as far as the 
ka. When Safa died, leaving a son who was a minor, the 
Muscovite party took the upper hand in Kazan and bestowed 
the crown on Schig-Alei. He made himself detested by his new 
subjects, and things came to such a pass that the Kazanese 
appeared to prefer the direct rule of Moscow to this disguised 
subordination. At the request of the inhabitants Ivan recalled 
ochig-Alei, and sent them a viceroy, Mikoulinski. Suddenly a 
rumor was spread in Kazan that Mikoulinski was approaching 
with Russian troops with the object of exterminating the popu- 
lation. A rebellion broke out. The gates of Moscow were shut 
on the Muscovites, and men demanded a prince of the Nogai 
Tatars. Ediger-Makhment was proclaimed Tzar of Kazan. 

Ivan determined to make an end of this Mussulman city. 
In June 1552, the same year that Henry II. obtained possession 
of the three bishoprics, the Tzar took the field. He was at 
once checked by the news that the Khan of the Crimea, wishing 
to save Kazan by a diversion, had invaded Moscow. Ivan ad- 
vanced against him as far as the Oka ; there he learnt that the 
barbarians, not being able to take Toula, had hastily retired. 
Upon this, Ivan's infantrv, with 150,000 men and 150 pieces of 
cannon, descended the Volga in boats, while the cavalry followed 
along the banks, and directed their course to Kazan. The 
creation of advanced posts had diminished the distance that 
separated Kazan from Nijni-Novgorod. His father had founded 
Makarief and Vassilsoursk on the Volga ; and he himself had 
established in 1551 the warlike colony of Sviajsk on the Sviaga. 
Later he founded those of Kosmodemiansk and Tcheboksary. 


At the beginning of September Ivan encamped under Kazan 
and surrounded it by a line of circumvallation, which cut off all 
communication between the town and the cavalry of the Mourza 
lapantcha, which had taken ^ the field. The garrison of Kazan, 
numbering 30,000 Tatars and 2500 Nogais, defended themselves 
energetically and incessantly, and managed by their sorties to 
hinder the work of the assailants. The Tzar repeatedly offered 
them honorable terms ; he even hung up his prisoners on gibbets 
to frighten the Kazanese into surrendering, but the besieged 
only shot arrows against these unhappy wretches, crying that 
" it was better for them to receive death from the clean hands 
of their countrymen than to perish by the impure hands of 
Christians." The Russian army had to struggle with the un- 
chained elements as well as with their enemies. The fleet, 
which bore their provisions and powder, was destroyed by a 
tempest. The voievodes wished to raise the siege, but Ivan re- 
animated their failing courage. Prolonged rains flooded the 
Muscovite camp, caused, it was said, by the sorcerers of Kazan, 
who stood on the walls, their robes girt up, insulting the be- 
siegers by their words and gestures. Ivan sent to Moscow for 
a miraculous cross, which dispersed the enchantments. 

Ivan had secured the services of a German engineer, who laid 
mines under the very walls of the town. The ramparts of wood 
and bricks at many points fell with a great noise, and the Rus- 
sian army entered the town by the breaches. A fierce hand to- 
hand light took place in the streets and around the palace. The 
bravest of the Kazanese, after having tried to defend their 
prince, cut their way through, but, pursued by the light cavalry, 
few escaped. In the town numbers were massacred : those only 
were spared who could be sold to slave-merchants. When the 
Tzar made his triumphal entry into the middle of these bloody 
ruins, he was moved, like Scipio at Carthage, by a feeling of 
pity for this great disaster. " They are not Christians," said 
he, weeping, " but yet they are men." The town was re-peopled 
by Russians, and even at the present day the Tatar population 
is confined to the faubourgs. In the Kremlin Ivan annihilated 
all the monuments of the Mongol past, and replaced them by 
churches and monasteries which attested his gratitude towards 
God and the triumph of the Cross over Islam. 

The date of these events is already far distant, but they still 
live in the memory of the Russian people. Many epics are con- 
secrated to this great victory. It is not only, as Karamsin says, 
because Kazan was the first fortress taken by the Russians after 
a siege according to the rules of war ; it is because the capture 
of Kazan marks the culminating point in the history of the long 


Struggle of the Slavs against the Tatars — a struggle which be- 
gan by the total subjugation of Russia by the Mongols, but 
which has continued to our own day, and probably will only end 
with the conquest of the Tatar races by the Russian Empire. 
The victory of Ivan the Terrible is the first great revenge of the 
vanquished over the vanquishers, the first triumph at the ex- 
pense of the conquerors, the first stage reached by European 
civilization in taking the offensive towards Asia. In the Rus- 
sian annals the expedition of Kazan occupies the same glorious 
place as the defeat of Abderahman in the history of the Franks, 
or Las Navas da Tolosa in the chronicles of Spain. It was 
more than a conquest — it was a crusade. During the assault 
Ivan did not- cease to display the standard of the holy faith. 
It was remarked that the day the ramparts fell the Tzar was at 
church, and the deacon read the following verse from the Gospel 
for the day : " There shall be one flock, one shepherd." It was 
with the cry of " God with us ! " that the Russians precipitated 
themselves into the town. The triumph of Moscow mingled 
with that of Christianity and orthodoxy. 

The political consequences of the taking of Kazan were con- 
siderable. The five Finnish or Mongol tribes who had been 
subject to this royal city — the Tcheremisses, the Mordvians, the 
Tchouvaches, whom M. Radlow considers the descendants of 
the Bulgars of Bolgary, the Votiaks and the Bachkirs — after a 
resistance of some years, were obliged to do homage to Moscow. 
Ivan sent them missionaries at the same time as his voievodes. 

The fall of the kingdom of Astrakhan soon followed that of 
Kazan. This great city was also divided between two parties. 
In 1554 Prince louri Pronski descended the Volga with 30,000 
men, and established Derbych, the protigi of Russia, on the 
throne. Derbych, after a short time, was accused of having an 
understanding with the Khan of the Crimea ; and Astrakhan 
was conquered a second time, and finally united to Russia. The 
Nogais, who wandered over the neighboring steppes, were 
forced to accept the Muscovite protection. Thus the Volga — 
that famous river whose banks sustain so many ruined cities, 
Itil capital of the Khazars, Bolgary capital of the Bulgars, Sarai 
capital of the Golden Horde — that keep the memory of the 
ancient races who have vanished from history ; the Volga — that 
grand artery of Eastern commerce — now flowed in the whole of 
its course from its source to its mouth through the land of the 

Persian Asia was thrown open to Russian influence by means 
of the Caspian ; and already the petty princes of the Caucasus, 
always fighting either among themselves or with the Tatars oA 



the Crimea, sought the alliance of the successors of the Greek 
Caesars. In order to keep a firmer hold on the Horde of the 
Taurid, Ivan took under his protection one of the two warlike 
republics which had been formed in the neighborhood of the 
Crimea: the Cossacks of the Don declared themselves subjects 
of Moscow, the Cossacks of the Dnieper remained Poles. 



Russia, which felt the growth of her forces, felt equally the 
need of throwing open the Baltic at the same time as the Black 
Sea. The Baltic was even the more necessary to the Russians, 
as by it only could they communicate with Western Europe, and 
receive vessels, artillery, and engineers. Thence Muscovy 
awaited the increase of power that civilization could alone give 
her. Between Muscovy and the Baltic lay more than one enemy : 
Sweden, the Livonian knights, Lithuania, and Poland. In 1554 
a war broke out about the rectification of the frontiers between 
Ivan the Terrible and the great Gustavus Vasa ; but as the 
founder of the Swedish dynasty was not supported by his neigh- 
bors, the war was a short one. It terminated by a commercial 
treaty which opened India and China to the Swedish merchants 
by way of Russia ; and to those of Russia, Flanders, England, 
and France, by way of Sweden. Moscow could not yet commu- 
nicate with the West except through a jealous intermedi- 

Ivan the Terrible, inspired by the same political and civiliz- 
mg ideas as Peter the Great, wished to " open a window " into 
Europe. For this purpose he coveted the ports of the Narva, 
Revel and Riga, then in the hands of the Livonian Order, 
against which Ivan had some grievances. About 1547 Ivan had 
sent the Saxon Schlitte into Germany to engage for him a cer- 
tain number of engineers and artizans, and Schlitte had managed 
to collect about a hundred people. The jealousy of the Germans 
then awoke ; they feared that, as she became civilized, Russia 
would also become strong. The Livonian Order demanded of 
the Emperor Charles VI. the right to stop these strangers on 
their road. None ever reached Moscow. Ivan, then occupied 
with Kazan, was unable to avenge himself; but when in 1554 
the envoys of the Order came to Moscow to solicit a renewal of 
the truce, he summoned them to pay tribute for lourief, the 
ancient patrimony of the Russian princes. Such a demand 
meant war. In 1558 the Russian army took Narva, Neuhausen, 


Dorpat, and seventeen other places. The Grand Master Kettler 
asked help of his neighbors. Poland alone responded to his 
appeal, and Sigismond Augustus II. concluded an offensive and 
defensive alliance with the Livonian Order. 

At this juncture an important revolution took place in the 
palace of the Tzar. Ivan's relations with his two counsellors 
Silvester and Adachef had singularly altered. They had dis- 
agreed with respect to the war with Livonia ; they had desired 
that after the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan Ivan should turn 
in preference to the third Mussulman State, the Khanate of the 
Crimea. M. Kostomarof gives excellent reasons for this pre- 
ference, but the reasons in favor of the opposite opinion are 
not less good. By conquering the Crimea the safety of the em- 
pipe would be secured, and the conversion to Islamism, the com- 
plete Tatar'ization of the ancient Taurian tribes still professing 
Christianity, would be prevented ; but by conquering Livonia 
an ancient patrimony of the Russian princes would be recovered 
and it would become possible to enter into direct relations with 
civilized Europe. The chances of success were equal. The 
Horde was then decimated by an epidemic, but the Livonian 
Order was in the act of dissolution by the result of the contest 
between Catholicism and Protestantism. The difficulties were 
equal. In attacking Livonia, Russia would come in contact with 
Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and Germany ; but behind the Crimea 
were the Turks, then at the height of their power, and much ir- 
ritated by the conquest of 'Kazan and Astrakhan. Peter the 
Great did not conquer Livonia till after twenty years hard fight- 
ing with the Powers of the North ; but how many Russian expe- 
ditions against the Crimea have not been stopped by the dis- 
tance, the difficulty of communication, the sandy deserts, and 
the extreme temperatures ? Catherine the Great only conquered 
the Taurid in the decadence of the Turkish Empire, and after 
many campaigns, when she not only brought into play her armies 
of the Danube, but sent a fleet to the Archipelago. In reality 
both enterprises were premature ; Russia had not yet strength 
to carry them through. Neither the Tzar nor his counsellors 
were completely in the right, but the obstinacy of the latter had 
a fatal result. To content everybody two wars were declared 
— which was to run the certain risk of a double check. 

The misunderstanding between the Tzar and his two minis- 
ters dated from further back Silvester abused his spiritual in- 
fluence with the Tzar to multiply jobs of his own. He had 
ended by leaving him no liberty ; and when Ivan's favorite 
son died, he told him brutally that it was a chastisement from 
Heaven for his indocility. He had entered into relations with 


boyards whom Ivan justly suspected ; he took their part against 
the Tzarina Anastasia, whom he represented as a second Kin- 
press Eudoxia, the persecutor of Chrysostom ; against the GUn- 
skis, and against tlie Romanofs. Adachef followed the same 
path. Like Haroun-al-Raschid's favorites, the Barmecides, 
these two ministers had ended by appropriating all the power of 
their master. Ivan had patience with them, believing them to 
be faithful ; but in 1553 he fell dangerously ill, and was thought 
to be at the point of death. Then the boyards resumed their 
old arrogance ; they obstinately refused to swear allegiance to 
the son of the Tzar, the young Dmitri, declaring that they would 
not obey his maternal relations, the Romanofs. The noisy dis- 
cussions reached the bed of the sick man, and his entreaties 
were despised. The boyards approached Vladimir, cousin of 
Ivan IV., who had also refused to take the oaths, and it was 
known that the mother of this ambitious prince was distributing 
largesses to the army. Silvester took the part of Prince Vladi- 
mir against those boyards who remamed faithful, and the family 
of Adachef joined with the mutineers. The faithful boyards 
even feared for the life of the Tzar ; Ivan could not be under 
any delusions as to the fate awaiting his wife and his son in case 
of his death. 

" When God shall have worked His will on me," said Ivan 
to the few boyards gathered round him, " do not, I pray you, 
forget that you have sworn an oath to my son and to me ; do 
not let him fall into the hands of the boyards ; fly with him to 
some strange land, whithersoever God will conduct you. And 
you," he continued, addressing the Romanofs, " wherefore these 
terrors ? Do you think that the boyards will spare you ? You 
will fall the first : die then rather — since die you must — for my 
son and for his mother ; do not abandon my wife to the fury of 
the boyards." Ivan IV. recovered, but he preserved a lasting 
impression of these days of anguish. When we see him, later 
in his reign, give himself up to revenge, and to apparently inex- 
plicable fury, we must think of the terrible vigils of 1553, of the 
scenes of rebellion and violence that troubled the peace of his 
sick chamber, of the obstinate refusals to take the desired vow 
of the delcarations of hatred against the Tzarina and her rela- 
tions, and of the intrigues woven round Vladimir against the 
Tzarevitch Dmitri. 

He had no more confidence in his favorites ; both were ban- 
ished from the Court. Silvester retired to the monastery of 
Saint Cyril, and was afterwards exiled to Solovetski. Adachef 
was appointed voiev^ode at Fellin in Livonia, and later was 
forced to live at Dorpat. But they left behind them a complete 
Vol. ' Russia 9 



administration, a perfect army of clients. They had peopled 
the Court, the governments, and the voievodies with their creat- 
ures. Their partisans were certain to agitate and plot for the 
return of their chiefs. Who knew how far these plots might 
go ? A short time after Adachef's disgrace, that Anastasia 
whom he detested died suddenly. Ivan alleged that she was 
poisoned. Since the publication of M. Zabieline's careful 
studies on the ' Private Life of the Tzarinas of Russia,' this 
allegation and others like it do not appear as inconceivable as 
they seemed to Karamsin. The intrigues of the friends of 
Adachef forced Ivan IV. many times to have recourse to severity, 
but at this epoch he was comparatively merciful. 

" When the treachery of that dog Alexis Adachef and his ac- 
complices was discovered," Ivan afterwards writes, " we let our 
anger be tempered with mercy ; we did not condemn the guilty 
to capital punishments, but only banished them to our different 
towns Then we put no one to death. Those who be- 
longed to the party of Silvester and Adachef we commanded to 
separate from them, and no longer to recognize them as chiefs. 
This promise we made them confirm by a vow, but they paid no 
heed to our injunction, and trampled their oath under foot. Not 
only did they not separate from the traitors, but they aided them 
by all possible means, and schemed to render them back their 
ancient power, and to set on foot against us a perfidious plot. 
Then only, seeing their wicked obstinacy and unconquerable 
spirit of rebellion, I inflicted on the guilty the penalty of their 
faults." Capital punishment was indeed rare at this epoch. 
Ivan usually contented himself with demanding afresh oath from 
those who were arrested on the road to Lithuania, and exacted 
surety from them and their friends that they would not seek 
again to pass into Poland. Sometimes he condemned them to 
the easy durance of the monasteries. 

What finally decided the Tzar to be more severe in his treat- 
ment was the defection of Prince Andrew Kourbski, who be- 
longed to a family once royal, and descended from Rurik. He 
had distinguished himself against the Tatars on the Oka and at 
Kazan, and, being a zealous partizan of Adachef and Silvester, 
he was deeply irritated by their fall. Nominated general-in- 
chief of the army in Livonia, his carelessness allowed the Rus- 
sians to suffer a shameful defeat. ■ 15,000 Russians were beateri 
by 4000 Poles ; and even, if the Polish historian Martin Belski 
is to be believed, 40,000 Russians by 1500 Poles. Kourbski 
had reason to fear the anger of the Tzar. He had been for 
some time negotiating with the King of Poland, being desirous 
of obtaining in Lithuania a command, lands, and advantages 



equal to those he would lose. At last, abandoning his wife and 
children to the vengeance of the Tzar, he left Wenden and 
crossed into the Polish camp. Thence he sent to Ivan a letter 
by his servant Chlpanof, whose foot, according to the tradition, 
Ivan nailed with his iron staff on to a step of the red staircase, 
while the message was being read to him. 

"Tzar formerly glorified by God ! " wrote Kourbski, " Tzar 
who formerly shone like the torch of orthodoxy, but who, for 
our sins, art now revealed to us in quite a different aspect, with 
a soiled and leprous conscience, such as we could not find even 
among barbarian infidels ! Exposed to thy cruel persecution, 
with a heart filled with bitterness, I wish notwithstanding to say 
a few words to you. O Tzar, why hast thou put to death the 
strong ones of Israel ? Why hast thou slain the valiant voie- 
vodes given thee by God ? Why hast thou shed their victorious 
blood, their only blood on the profaned pavement of the churches 
of God, during the sacred ceremonies ? Why hast thou red- 
dened the porch of the temple with the blood of the martyrs ? 
In what were they guilty towards thee, O Tzar ? Was it not 
their valor which overthrew, which laid at thy feet, those 
proud kingdoms of the Volga, before which thine ancestors 
were slaves ? Is it not their zeal, their intelligence, to which, 
after God, thou owest the strong towns of the Germans ? And 
behold thy gratitude to these unhappy ones ! Thou hast exter- 
minated whole families amongst us. Dost thou think thyself 
then immortal, O Tzar ? or dost thou think (seduced by some 
heresv) that thou canst escape the incorruptible Judge, Jesus 
our God ? No ; He will judge the whole world, and chiefly such 
proud persecutors as thou art. My blood, which has already 
flowed for thee like water, will cry against thee to our Lord. 
God sees all consciences ! " Kourbski then invokes the victims 
of Ivan, .and shows them standing before the throne of God, de- 
manding justice against their executioner. " Is it that in thy 
pride thou trustest in thy legions to keep thee in this ephemeral 
life, inventing against the human race new engines of 
to tear and disfigure the body of man, the image of the angeis ? 
Dost thou reckon on thv servile flatterers, on thv boon com- 
panions, on thy turbulent boyards, who make thee lose thy soul 
and body, entice thee to the debaucheries of Venus, and sacri- 
fice their children to the vile rites worthy of Saturn ? When my 
last day comes, I wish that this letter, watered with my tears, 
should be placed on my coffin." He ended by declarmg him- 
self a subject of Sigismond Augustus, "my soverei^u, who, I 
hope, will load me with favors and consolations for my misfor- 
tunes." Thus Kourbski spoke "in the name ot the strong ones 


of Israel, of the living and the dead," that is, in the name of all 
the friends of Adachef ; he made himself the organ of their 
wrath and complaints ; he formulated their grievances, and ex- 
aggerated them ; he demanded an account of the Tzar of his 
conduct towards them, threatening him with a higher tribunal, 
and dared to ask if he thought himself immortal ; he refused 
Ivan all participation in the glory acquired at Kazan, insulted 
the boyards who surrounded him, and boasted of the crime 
which was the most unpardonable in the eyes of the Tzar — the 
recognition of the Polish sovereignty, 

Kourbski's letter was a manifesto. It helped to irritate the 
suspicions of the Tzar, already only too disposed to imagine 
plots. Ivan, who thought himself a man of letters, and was 
really one of the most learned men in his empire, conceived it 
necessary to answer the letter of Kourbski with a long vindica- 
tion, adorned with quotations from sacred and profane authors. 
The Tzar and his rebel subject exchanged many epistles of this 
kind. Ivan, who had begun by this time to justify his surname 
of Terrible, gave, besides, another answer to Kourbski's mani- 
festo — the punishment of his supposed accomplices. 

Ivan felt that he could no longer govern with a Court, a 
council of state {douma), and an administration which were filled 
with the friends of Adachef and Kourbski. Kourbski's conduct 
shows to what depths of treason their rancor cculd bring them. 
He was to return to devastate Russia with a Polish army ! Was 
the life of the Tzar safe in the midst of such men ? In Decem- 
ber 1564 Ivan quitted Moscow with all his friends, servants, and 
treasures, and retired to the Slobode Alexandrof. He then wrote 
two letters to Moscow — one to the Archbishop, complaining of the 
plots and infidelity of the nobles, and the complicity of the clergy, 
who, abusing the rig/it of intercession, prevented the sovereign 
from punishing the guilty ; in the other he reassured the citizens 
and people of Moscow, by informing them that they were not 
included in his censure. The terror of the capital was great ; 
the people trembled at the thought of falling again under the 
government of the oligarchs; the boyards feared what the people 
might do to them. Neither the one nor the other could resign 
themselves to the anger of the sovereign. The boyards and the 
clergy resolved to ask pardon, and, if necessary, to " carry their 
heads " to the Tzar. They went in procession to the Slobode 
Alexandrof, to beseech him to recall his abdication. Ivan con- 
sented to resume the crown, but on his own conditions. As he 
could neither govern with the actual administration nor destroy 
it, as he was forced to respect its vested interests, he made a 
sort of partition of the monarchy. The greater part of the 



empire continued to be governed by the douma of the boyards, 
and constituted the zemchtchira, that is, the " rule of the country." 
Over this part of Russia Ivan only reserved a surveillance, and 
the right of punishing treason. The other part was placed under 
the " personal and individual " government of the Tzar, and 
formed the " opritchnina." Leaving the ancient Court, the an- 
cient ^(9//^?^;, and the ancient administration still in existence, Ivan 
IV. formed with his own creatures a new Court, a new council, and 
a new administration to which he confided the towns and villages 
that had fallen to his share. He surrounded himself with a 
special guard, called " the thousand of the Tzar," or the opritchniki 
who had adopted, as arfnes par/antes, a dog's, head, and a broom 
suspended from their saddles. They were ready to bite the 
enemies of the Tzar, and to sweep treason off the Russian soil. 
This singular re'gime lasted seven years (1565-1572). 

Ivan made great use of his right to punish traitors, or those 
whom he regarded as such. A perfect reign of terror hung over 
the Russian aristocracy, with alternations of calm and renewed fury. 
We know the names of his victims, but we do not alwavs know 
their crimes. The writers hostile to Ivan IV., Kourbski, the Italian 
Guagnini, then in the service of the King of Poland, and the 
German refugees Taube and Kruse, are not always agreed on 
the subject. 

About the facts which can be clearly proved, we can see that 
Ivan had real grievances against the nobles whom he put to 
death. On the side of the oligarchs the strife, though quiet and 
noiseless, was not less bloody. We ought not to be deceived 
by their demonstrations of humility and submission With their 
foreheads in the dust, they could still conspire. We must beware 
of thinking Ivan's enemies were any better than himself. They 
were as cruel towards their inferiors as the Tzar was towards 
them. This aristocracy of slave-masters, habituated under the 
Tatar yoke to an insolent disdain of human life and feeling, was 
not superior in morality to its tyrant. It presented more than 
one type similar to the French monsters Gilles de Relz and the 
Sieur de Giac. Under very different colors, it was the same 
battle that raged in Russia and in France. But in France men 
fought in open day on the battle-fields of the Praguerie or of the 
League of the Public Good ; in Russia the contest was carried 
on by silent plots, by noiseless attempts to poison or slay by 
magic, met by the axe of the executioner. In this sinister dia- 
logue between the master and his subjects, it was naturally the 
master who spoke the loudest. In the absence of a sufiicient 
number of authentic documents, we risk nothing by being a 
little more sceptical than Karamsin. 


The principal episodes of this autocratic reign of terror arei 
I, The deposiiion and perhaps the murder of St. Philip, Arcb 
bishop of Moscow, guilty of having nobly interceded for the con- 
demned, and of hating the opritchniki. 2. The execution ot 
Alexandra, widow of Iroui and sister-in-law of Ivan ; of Prince 
Vladimir and his mother, the ambitious Euphrosyne, who thus 
expiated their intrigues of 1553. We must remark that Ivan, 
whatever Kourbski may say, spared Vladimir's children, and 
largely provided for them. 3. The chastisement of Novgorod, 
where the aristocratic party had entertained, it seemed to Ivan, 
the project of opening the gates to the King of Poland, and 
where the Tzar, according to his own testimony, put to death 
1505 persons. 4. The great execution in the Red Place in 1571, 
where a certain number of Muscovites and Novgorodians were 
slain, and where many of Ivan's new favorites, notably Viazemski 
and the Basmanofs, underwent the same penalty as his old 

A curious memorial has been left us of the vengeance of 
" the Terrible " ; it is the synodical letter of the Monastery of 
St. Cyril, in which Ivan asks for each of his victims by name the 
prayers of the Church. This list shows a total of 3470 victims, 
of whom 986 are mentioned by name. Many of these names 
are followed by this sinister statement, — " with his wife," " with 
his wife and children," '* with his daughters," " with his sons." 
It was this that Kourbski called " the extermination of entire 
families " {vsiorodnd). The constitution of the Russian family 
at this epoch was so strong, that the death of the head necessarily 
involved that of the other members. Other collective indica- 
tions are not less significant. For example : " Kazarine Dou- 
brovski and his two sons, with ten men who came to their help." 
*' Twenty men of the village of Kolmenskod ; " " eighty of Mat- 
veichd ; " these were no doubt peasants and dieti-boyarskie who 
tried to defend their masters. There is this mention relative to 
Novgorod : " Remember, Lord, the souls of thy servants, to the 
number of 1505 persons, Novgorodians." Had not Louis XL 
tender feelings of this nature? He prayed with fervor for the 
soul of his brother, the Duke de Berri. 

Other records demonstrate that Ivan the Terrible thought he 
had serious reasons to fear for his life. His curious corre- 
spondence with Queen Elizabeth of England proves this, as he 
obtains of her the formal promise that in case of misfortune he 
is to find in England a safe asylum and the free exercise of his 
worship (1570). There is besides his will of 1572, which con- 
templates the case of his being " proscribed by his boyards and 
expelled by them from the throne, and being obliged to wander 



from country to country," and recommends to his sons to live 
on good terms with each other after his death, to learn how to 
restrain and reward their subjects, and above all to be on the 
watch against them. 

During this terrible intestine strife, the war with Livonia 
and her ally the King of Poland continued. Notwithstanding 
the help of the latter, the Knights were everywhere beaten, and 
their fortresses taken by the Russian troops. 

At last, ruined by so many blows, this famous Order dis- 
solved. The Isle of CEsel sold itself to Denmark ; Revel gave 
itself to the Swedes ; Livonia was ceded by the Grand Master 
to Poland; Kettler reserved to himself Courland and Semigallia, 
which were erected into a hereditary duchy. There were no 
more Livonian knights, but Poland, as heir of the quarrels of 
Livonia, became more than ever ardent in the struggle. The 
Russians sustained their new reputation. In 1563 Ivan the 
Terrible, with a numerous army and many guns, besieged and 
took Polotsk, a very important position from its proximity to 
Livonia and its situation on the Dwina, the grand commercial 
route to Riga. In spite of a victory at Orcha, the King of Po- 
land demanded a truce (1566). 

Ivan at this moment offered a strange spectacle to Russia. 
To deliberate on the request of Sigismond he assembled a coun- 
sel, composed of the higher clergy, the territorial boyards on 
the frontiers of Lithuania (and well acquainted with the local 
topography), and finally the merchants of Moscow and Smo- 
lensk. This despot, who founded autocracy in blood, convoked 
real States-general ; he made an appeal to their opinion, as he 
had many times before, when from the stone tribune of Lobnoe 
miesto he harangued the three orders. The Assembly decided 
that the King of Poland's conditions could not be accepted, and 
offered men and money for the continuation of the war. This 
was prolonged for four years, and ended in a truce. The Tzar, 
who saw difficulties accumulating in Livonia, conceived an ex- 
pedient to enable him to escape them. No longer hoping to be 
able directly to unite the Baltic ports to his empire, he offered 
the title of King of Livonia to the Danish Prince Magnus, and 
made him marr}' a daughter of the same Prince Vladimir whom 
he had put to death. Magnus, nominal- King of Livonia, soon 
perceived that he was only an instrument of Muscovite policy. 
He intrigued against the Tzar and was dethroned, Ivan the 
Terrible took Wenden in person, which Magnus had garrisoned, 
and massacred the German soldiers to the last man. 

Unfortunately the war with Poland was complicated by the 
raids of the Tatars of the Crimea. Sigismond did not cease to 


work upon the Khan, who well understood that his cause was 
allied with that of Poland. The Tzar, however, overpowered 
the Khan, took Kief, and established towns on the Dnieper. 
And what could the Tatars gain there, after all ? Had not Ivan 
overthrown two Mongol kingdoms ? The Sultan of Stamboul, 
Selim \l., was ready to join in the Holy War for Kazan and 
Astrakhan. In 1569, 17,000 Turks, commanded by Kassim 
Pacha, and 50,000 Tatars, led by the Khan, besieged Astrakhan. 
The operations dragged on ; the Pacha wished to pass the 
winter there, but a sedition broke out in the army. He was 
obliged to raise the siege, and lost many of his men in the 
steppes of the desert. Two years after, the Khan Devlet- 
Ghirei invaded Russia with 20,000 men. Was he aided by the 
treachery of the voievodes .-* He crossed the Oka, and suddenly 
appeared under the walls of Moscow. He burned the faubourgs 
and the fire spread to the town, which, except the Kremlin, was 
completely reduced to ashes. A foreign author gives the evi- 
dently exaggerated number of 800,000 victims. The Khan retired 
with more than 100,000 prisoners, and despatched the following 
insolent message to Ivan : " I burn, I ravage everything because 
of Kazan and Astrakhan. I came to you and I burnt Moscow. 
I wished to have your crown and your head, but you did not 
show yourself ; you declined a battle, and you dare to call your- 
self a Tzar of Moscow. Will you live at peace with me ? Yield 
me up Kazan and Astrakhan. If you have only money to offer 
me, it would be useless, were it the riches of the whole world. 
What I want is Kazan and Astrakhan. As to the roads to your 
empire, I have seen them — I know them." He returned the 
following year (1572), but Prince Michael Vorotinski met him 
on the banks of the Lopasnia, and inflicted on him a complete 

The same year (that of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew) 
died Sigismond Augustus II., king of Poland. His reign was 
especially memorable for the union of Lublin (1569), in virtue of 
which Poland and Lithuania were henceforth to form only one 
State under an elective prince. Thus Poland enfeebled royal 
power at home, just when it acquired in Russia an extraordinary 
degree of energy. A party of nobles was formed at Warsaw who 
(vished to elect the son of Ivan the Terrible as King of Poland. 
This was to prepare for the reunion of the two great Slav em- 
pires, separated less by language than religion, whose growing 
antagonism could only terminate in the ruin of one of them, to 
the great advantage of the German race. Ivan coveted the 
crown, not for his son, but for himself. Let us see him court 
^e Polish ambassadors, and try to defend himself against the 


accusations of cruelty and tyranny which the banished Musco 
vites brought against him. 

" If your pafis, who are now without a king," said he to the 
Polish envoy Voropai, " desire me for their sovereign, they will 
see what a good protector and kind master they will find in me. 
Many among you say that I am cruel. It is true that I am cruel 
and irascible — I do not deny it ; but to whom, I ask you, am I 
cruel .'' I am cruel towards anyone that is cruel to me. The 
good ! ah, I would give them in a moment the chain and the 
robe that I wear ! It is nothing wonderful that your princes 
love their subjects, if their subjects love them. Mine have de- 
livered me over to the Tatars of the Crimea. My voievodes did 
not even warn me of the arrival of the enemy. Perhaps it was 
difficult for them to vanquish a force so superior to them in num- 
bers ; but even if they had lost some thousands of men, and 
only brought me a whip or a cane of the Tatars, I should have 
been grateful. Think of the enormity of their treason towards 
me. If some of them were afterwards chastised, it was for their 
crimes they were punished. I ask you — do you spare traitors ? " 
Ivan then spoke of his grievances against Kourbski, and ended 
by promising " to observe the laws, to respect and even to ex- 
tend the liberties and franchises of Poland." 

The ambassador of France at Warsaw finally carried the day, 
and Henri de Valois, due d'Anjou, was proclaimed king. He 
did not stay long in Poland, and, after his flight to the West, a 
new Diet assembled, and the intrigues of the rival Courts began 

Stephen Batory, voievode of Transylvania, was elected king. 
He was a young, ambitious, and energetic prince, and no more 
formidable enemy to Ivan the Terrible in his old age could have 
been chosen. It was now not only a question of the conquest 
of Livonia which was pursued so laboriously in the face of so 
many obstacles, but, in placing the crown on his head, Batory 
had sworn to give back to Poland the towns conquered from 
her by the Muscovite pri ^ces. It was now a contest between 
the semi-barbarous army of Russia, her almost feudal soldiery, 
her Tatar cavalry, her tactics of routine, and her feeble artillery, 
and a really European army, a well-directed artillery, compact 
regiments of German mercenaries, and Hungarian veterans, sea- 
soned by many combats. Ivan awaited his enemy in Livonia, 
when suddenly Batory appeared before Polotsk and took it, in 
spite of a vigorous resistance. The Russian gunners hung 
themselves by their guns in despair. This and the following 
years were marked by the capture of many Russian fortresses. 
Batory, the hero of the North — the Charles XII. of the century 


of Ivan the Terrible — seemed ready to annihilate the work of a 
long reign, and to check the first effort of Russia to escape from 
a state of barbarism. The Swedes on their side, commanded 
by De la Gardie, took Kexholm in Carelia, and invaded 
Esthonia. Old Pskovian and Novgorodian Russia was invaded. 
In 1 58 1 Batory besieged Pskof, whilst De la Gardie captured 
Narva, Ivangorod, lam, and Koporid. But Pskof marked the 
limit of Batory's successes. This little town was defended 
with so much energy by Ivan Chouiski, that, after a three 
months' siege and many assaults, Poles and Hungarians had to 
confess themselves vanquished. 

Ivan had ceased to appear at the head of his troops, thinking 
that a prince who is not sure of his peers would be foolish if he 
risked himself in a battle ; a conclusion to which Louis XI. had 
come at Montlhdry. There still remained diplomacy to direct. 
Threatened by Batory, he had recourse to an expedient. He 
implored the mediation of Pope Gregory XIII. between the 
Catholic king and himself. The Pontiff sent to Moscow the 
Jesuit Antonio Possevino, with orders at the same time to nego- 
tiate the union with the two Churches. The account of Posse- 
Vino shows us Ivan the Terrible in his true colors ; almost free- 
thinking, curious, and sometimes humorous, with ideas of toler- 
ance remarkable for his time. If the Pope's envoy failed in the 
religious part of his mission, he at least succeeded in concluding 
a truce between the two sovereigns, by which Ivan had to cede 
Polotsk and all Livonia. This bold enterprise for opening the 
Baltic Sea, which preceded by 150 years that of Peter the Great, 
had fallen miserably to the ground. The fruit of thirty years' 
efforts and sacrifices was lost (1582). 


Writers hostile to Ivan love to contrast the end of his reign 
— his /^/-j-6'«a/ government — with his early years, when Silvester 
and Adachef were in power. In the first period there was noth- 
ing but success ; Kazan and Astrakhan were conquered. In 
the second period the Russians were vanquished by the Poles 
and Swedes ; were expelled from Livonia ; they lost Polotsk, 
and saw Moscow burnt by the Khan of the Crimea. The mean- 
ing of ^ these facts really is that the Russian arms were trium- 
phant in the East against barbarians ignorant of the military art, 
and unfortunate in the West, where they had to contend with 
the artillery, the tactics, the discipline, and the troops of Europe. 
Ivan needed more wit to be defeated as he was in Livonia, than 


to win as he did in Kazan. It is no dishonor for the Russia of 
the i6th century to have failed in this great undertaking, since 
Peter, with all his genius, spent twenty-five years in the same 
task. This unlucky period of the reign of Ivan was not without 
fruit for the grandeur and civilization of Russia. The Germans 
closed to her the Baltic, the English opened for her the White 

Under Edward VI. a company of merchant venturers was 
formed for the discovery of " regions, kingdoms, islands, and 
places unknown and unvisited by the highway of the sea." 
Sebastian Cabot, chief pilot of England, was nominated governor 
for life. Three vessels, under the command of Sir Hugh \^'i^ 
loughby and Chancellor, set sail towards the north-east, towards 
that strange sea spoken of by Tacitus — " a sluggish mere and 
motionless — which forms the girdle of the world, where you 
hear the sound of sun-rising ! " That sea must lead, men 
thought, to China. On the coasts of Scandinavia near Varde- 
huus, a frightful tempest arose and dispersed the squadron. 
Willoughby disappeared with the ' Buona Speranza ' and the 
' Buona Confidenza.' Some fishermen afterwards found the two 
ships in a bay of the White Sea, where they had been nipped by 
the ice, and all the sailors who manned them were dead of 
cold and hunger. Chancellor, with the ' Edward Bonaventura,' 
succeeded in doubling Laponia and the Holy Cape, penetrated 
first into an unknown sea, and then into the mouth of a river, 
near which was a monastery. The sea was the White Sea, the 
river the Dwina, the monasterv that of St. Nicholas. Chancel- 
lor learned with astonishment that he was on the territory of the 
Tzar of Moscow ; he had found Russia beneath the North Pole 
(1553). Further off was the monastery of St. Michael, near 
which was afterwards to be built in this desert, chiefly thanks 
to the English, the commercial city of St. Michael the Archangel, 
or, more shortly, Arkhangel. Chancellor at once left for Mos- 
cow, and delivered to Ivan the Terrible the letters which Ed- 
ward VI., not knowing where his subjects might land, had ad- 
dressed vaguely "to all the princes and lords, to all the judges 
of the earth, to their officers, to whoever possesses any high 
authority in all the regions under the vast sky." Ivan IV. 
admitted the English " to see his majesty and his eyes," feasted 
them in the Golden Palace, and gave them a letter for their 
king, in which he authorized the English to trade with his domin- 
ions, and made them promise to send ships to the Dwina. 

Mary Tudor succeeded her brother, and shared the throne with 
her Spanish husband, Philip II. They confirmed the privileges 
of the company of merchant venturers, and in 1556 Chancellor, 


accompanied by Richard Gray and George Killingworth, again 
set sail for tlie mouth of the Dwina, and arrived successfully at 
Moscow. This time they obtained from the Tzar letters-patent 
formally authorizing the members of the company to establish 
themselves at Kholmogory and at Vologda, and to trade east 
and west. During this time Stephen Burroughs, in the ' Search- 
thrift,' navigated the east, gained the shores of the country of 
the Samoyedes, touched on the islands of Nova Zembla and 
Vaigatz, and was only checked by the approach of the dark Po- 
lar winter. 

Chancellor's two vessels — the ' Edward Bonaventura ' and 
the ' Philip and Mary ' — which had discovered the missing ships 
of Willoughby, departed for England. The former had on board 
Osip Nepei, governor of Vologda, the first Russian ambassador 
that had been seen in England, accompanied by a suite of six- 
teen Russians, and carrying a letter and presents from Ivan 
IV. A tempest scattered the fleet, sent the ' Philip and Mary ' 
as far as the coast of Norway, sunk the ' Speranza ' and the 
' Confidenza,' and threw the ' Bonaventura ' on the inhospitable 
rocks of Inverness. Chancellor succeeded in saving the Rus- 
sian envoy, but perished himself with his son and nearly all the 
crew. The cargo and the presents of the Tzar were plundered 
by the savage natives of the country. 

Twelve miles from London Osip Nepei was received by 
eighty merchants of the company, mounted on magnificent 
horses, and adorned with heavy chains of gold. He now be- 
came acquainted with " all the solid respectability of old Eng- 
land." His cortege was increased by new squadrons of mer- 
chants and gentlemen as they approached the town, and he made 
his triumphal entry on February the 28th 1557. Harangued by 
the Lord Mayor, received by the Queen and the King, feasted 
by the corporation of drapers he departed for Russia with letters- 
patent according to Russian merchants in England a reciprocity 
of privileges. England did not bind herself down to much. 

Nepei this time was accompanied by Jenkinson, an admirable 
type of an English sailor, — bold, indefatigable, ready for any- 
thing ; a merchant, an administrator, a diplomat at need, who 
had already visited all the seas of Europe, and, in despair at 
England not being able to contest the Mediterranean with her 
Venetian rival, wished to secure her a new passage by Russia to 
the East. His open character and wide knowledge were won- 
derfully seductive to Ivan, He obtained from the Tzar a letter 
of recommendation to the Asiatic princes, descended the Volga, 
flew the first English flag on the Caspian, landed on the coast of 
Turkestan ; plunged with camels loaded with merchandise into 



regions infested with brigands, and ravaged by the wars of the 
khans ; was very nearly massacred, reached Bokhara, and was 
lucky enough to return before the city was sacked by the Suhan 
of Samarcand (1558-1559). In another voyage (1562) he again 
crossed the Caspian, and presented specimens of EngHsh man- 
ufacture and tlie letters of Elizabeth to Shah Thamas, King of 
Persia, who, warned by the friends of the Turks and Venetians, 
received Jenkinson with an insulting mistrust and coldness. 
When he retired from the Court, a domestic followed him carry- 
ing a basin of sand, and scattered it to efface the impure foot- 
steps of the giaour on the soil of the sacred palace. Jenkinson 
brought back to Ivan IV, messages from many small princes, 
notably from those of Chirvan and Georgia, who wished to place 
themselves under the Muscovite protection. The results of 
these voyages were negative. Seeing the instability of the 
Asiatic regions, the English had for the present to confine them- 
selves to trading in the territories of the Tzar. The latter, in 
acknowledgment of the services rendered him by Jenkinson, aui 
thorized them to trade on all the rivers of the north, from the 
Dwina to the Obi, and to establish themselves in the principal 
Russian towns — Pskof, Novgorod, Nijni-Novgorod, Kazan, As- 
trakhan, and Narva, which had just fallen into the power of the 

In 1568 Ivan wished to conclude with Elizabeth a treaty of 
alliance, offensive and defensive, against Poland and Sweden. 
He offered her in exchange a monopoly of commerce with Rus- 
sia, though this right, by his own showing, weighed more heavily 
on his empire than a tribute would have done. He also re- 
quested her to sign an engagement, reciprocal for the two sov- 
ereigns, to furnish each other with an asylum in the event of the 
success of an enemy, or the rebellion of their subjects, obliging 
them to fly from their States. Elizabeth declined the offer of 
alliance, and refused to accept for herself the offered asylum, 
" finding, by the grace of God, no dangers of the sort in her do- 
minions." It was in 1570 that she signed the treaty mentioned 
above, and had it countersigned by Bacon and the principal 
statesmen. This, however, was far from contenting Ivan, as 
Elizabeth persisted in declining a refuge in Russia. The dis- 
cussion on this " great affair," as Ivan calls it in his letters, was 
prolonged for some time longer. Elizabeth sent Randolph, 
Jenkinson, and Daniel Silvester to Russia. Ivan was repre- 
sented in London by Andrew Sovine, Pisemski, and the English 
merchant. Horsey. 

The last envoy of England in the reign of Ivan was Jerome 
Bowes, charged to explain to the Tzar the difficulties in the way 


of his project of marriage with Lady Mary Hastings, cousin of 
Elizabeth. Notwithstanding his heaviness and want of tact, 
Bowes obtained great credit with the Tzar, who sometimes said 
to him, " May it please God that my servants prove as faithful ! " 
Bowes profited by his favor to get the privileges of the English 
augmented, but he made himself many enemies at Court, and 
was greatly maltreated during the reaction that followed the 
death of Ivan. The relations were renewed in Feodor's reign 
by Horsey, and above all, by Fletcher, author of a curious ac- 
count of Russia. 

PVench merchants had also brought to Ivan a letter of 
Henry III., and had settled themselves in Moscow. Other en- 
voys arrived from Holland, Spain, and Italy, to try to rival the 
English ; but the latter, who had been the first to reach Russia, 
kept the pre-eminence. 

In 1558 the Tzar had yielded to Gregory Strogonof ninety- 
two miles of desert land on the banks of the Kama. Here the 
Strogonofs created many centres of population, and began to 
explore the mineral wealths of the Ourals. Their colonists even 
passed the " mountain girdle," and came in contact with the 
kingdom of Siberia. The Strogonofs, as audacious as the 
Spaniards, dreamed of the conquest of this vast empire, and re- 
quested authority of the Tzar to take the offensive against the 
Tatars. To fight, an army was necessary. Russia was so full 
of vigor, that the most impure elements often became the agents 
of her security and progress. The Good Companions of the Don 
had more than once excited the anger of the Tzar by pillaging 
the travellers and boats on the royal road of the Volga. They 
had not always respected the possessions of the Crown. One 
of these brigand chiefs, the Cossack Irmak Timofeevitch, obtained 
the pardon of the Tzar, and took service with the Strogonofs. 
At the head of 850 men — Russians, Cossacks, Tatars, German, 
and Polish prisoners of war — he crossed the Ourals, terrified 
the natives by the novelty of fire-arms, traversed the immense 
untrodden forests of Tobol, defeated the Khan Koutchoum in 
many battles, took Sibir, his capital, and made his cousin Mamet- 
koul prisoner. Then he subjugated the banks of the Irtych 
and the Obi, and consoled the last years of the Tzar by the 
news that he had conquered him a new kingdom, and added to 
all his other crowns that of Siberia. Ivan also sent bishops and 
priests into his new dominions. Irmak, after having finished his 
conquest and thrown open the communications with the rich 
Bokhara, only survived Ivan a short time. One day he allowed 
himself to be surprised by his enemies, and sank in trying to 
swim the Irtych, from the weight of the cuirass given him by the 



Tzar (1584). This rival of Pizarro and Cortez, the conquistador 
of a new world, was reckoned a hero by the people, and is 
honored as a saint by the Church. Miracles were accomplished 
at his tomb ; epic songs celebrated his exploits. The Tatars 
have composed a whole legend about him. 

If Adachef had given to Russia in 1551 her first municipal 
liberties, Ivan had assembled in 1556 the first States-general, 
composed of the three orders. The reformation of the Church 
under Silvester was completed by the Council of 1573, which 
forbade rich convents to acquire new lands ; and, by the Council 
of 1580, extending the prohibition to all convents. The Church 
could no longer acquire property. Ivan the Terrible restrained 
an abuse which troubled all the public ceremonies, and more 
than once imperilled the success of battles. We know how 
powerful, in the Russia of the i6th century, was the constitution 
of the family. When a noble rose or fell, his whole family rose 
or fell with him ; even the memory of his ancestors and the 
future of his youngest nephews were concerned. This is the 
reason why a Russian noble never consented to occupy an in- 
ferior place, if no precedents on the subject existed. Court and 
camp were constantly disturbed by the " quarrels of precedence " 
(miesinitc/iestvo). Neither the knout nor the executioner's axe 
could subdue their resistance. They would rather die than dis- 
honor their ancestors. The ' Books of Rank ' were consulted on 
all occasions, to know the respective precedence of the different 
families. Ivan IV. forbade all disputes of rank to any noble 
who was not the head of his family. This was only to restrain 
the evil ; it had yet to be extirpated. 

Ivan the Terrible may be considered as the founder of the 
National Guard of the streltsi or strelitz, who during two hundred 
years rendered great services to the empire. — He also organized, 
on the frontiers threatened by the Tatars, a series of posts and 
camps where the soldiers of the country might be exercised. 

He gathered strangers about him. He authorized the minister 
Wettermann, of Dorpat, to preach at Moscow, listened to Eber- 
feld, and refused a discussion with Rosvita, saying that he would 
not " cast pearls before swine." He permitted the erection of 
the first Calvinist and Lutheran churches at Moscow, thus an- 
ticipating the toleration of the i8th century ; but, on seeing the 
people's dislike to them, he had them removed two versts from 
the capital. 

Ivan's character was a strange compound of greatness and 
barbarism. Cruel, dissolute, superstitious, we see him by turns 
yielding himself, with his favorites, to the most shameful ex- 
cesses, or, covered with a monkish garment, heading them in 

2 o8 -^/-S" TOR Y OF K C/SSJA. 

processions and other pious exercises. Like Henry VIII., he 
had many wives. After Anastasia Romanof he married a bar- 
barian, the Tcherkess Maria ; next, two legitimate wives ; then 
two more whose union the Church refused to sanction. By his 
seventh wife, Maria Nagoi he had a son, another Dmitri. At 
the close of his days we see him seeking an alliance with 
foreigners, and asking first the sister of the King of Poland, and 
then a cousin of Elizabeth of England, in marriage. His brutal 
habits and the facility with which he used his iron staff, had a 
tragic conclusion. In an altercation with his son Ivan he struck 
him, and the blow was mortal. Great and fierce was the sorrow 
of the Tzar. In slaying his beloved son, he had slain his own 
work. He had no longer a successor, since Feodor, the elder 
of his remaining sons, was feeble in body and mind ; and the 
second Dmitri was only an infant. It was for foreign succes- 
sors — for one of the detested boyards — that, at the price of so 
much blood and so many perils, he had founded autocracy. He 
only survived his son three years, and died in 1584. Without 
allowing himself to be biassed by Ivan's numerous cruelties, the 
historian ought fairly to compare him with men of his own time. 
He ought not to forget that the i6th century is the century of 
Henry VIII., of Ferdinand the Catholic, of Catherine de Medici, 
of the Inquisition, of Saint Bartholomew, and of strapados. Was 
the Europe of this era indeed so far advanced beyond Asiatic 
Russia, newly escaped from the Mongol yoke } Ivan the Terrible, 
in decimating, in suppressing, in tyrannizing over the aristocracy, 
at least put it out of their power to establish after him that 
anarchic noblesse, the hidden danger of Slav nations, which in 
Poland, under the name oi pospolite,h&gz.n by enfeebling royalty, 
and ended by enfeebling the nation. 





The Muscovite government — The km and the men of the Tzar — "Y^t prikazes-- 
Rural classes — Citizens — Commerce — Domestic slavery — Seclusion of 
women — The Renaissance ; Literature, popular songs, and cathedrals-^ 
Moscow in the i6th century. 



The Russia of the i6th and 17th centuries is an Oriental 
state, almost without rehitions with Europe. The Livonian 
knights, the Poles, the Swedes, and the Danes, who understood 
that it was only her barbarism which ensured her inferiority to 
her weaker neighbors, took good care that neither the men, the 
arms, nor the sciences of the West should reach her. Sigismond 
threatened the English merchants of the Baltic with death. He 
did not intend that " the Muscovite, who is not only our present 
adversary, but the eternal enemy of all free States, should pro- 
vide herself with guns, bullets, and munitions ; and, above all, 
with artisans who continue to make arms, hitherto unknown in 
this barbaric country." Moscow, thanks to those jealous precau- 
tions, thanks also to the hatred of the Russians for the " Mus- 
sulmans " and " heretics " of the West, remained what the Tatar 
invasions had made her — an Asiatic Empire. The patriarchal rule 
of ancient Slavonia and the example of the Oriental sovereigns 
contributed to maintain in her the despotic principle in all its 
force. The Tzar was at once the father and the master of his 
subjects, more absolute .than the Khan of the Tatars or the 
Sultan of Constantinople. The persons and the goods of his 
subjects were his property ; the greatest lords, the princes de- 
scended from Rurik, were only his slaves {kholopy). A petition 
in Russian signifies a " beating of the forehead " {tchc'lobitiiy 
The nobles of the empire signed their requests not with their 
names, Ivan or Peter, but with a lackey's nickname, a servile dim- 
inutive, Vania or Petrouchka. The Bvzantine formula, " Mav I 
speak and live ? " is exaggerated in the Russian, " Bid me not to 


be chastised ; bid me to speak a word." Men approached the Tzar 
in fear and trembling ; the people prostrated themselves before 
that terrible iron staff with which Ivan was always armed. He con- 
sidered the empire as his private property ; he administered it 
with his own " people," who had succeeded to the droujina of 
former princes ; he governed it by the help of his own relations 
or those of his wife. The sons of the greatest lords gloried in 
serving him in the capacity of spalniki or gentlemen of the 
bedchamber, and stolniki or waiters at the royal table. These 
domestic functions led to the rank of boyards or okohiitchie (sur- 
rounders of the prince.) The principal boyards formed the donfua 
or council of the empire, assembled in the chamber of the prince, 
and were presided over by him. On solemn occasions the sobor or 
general assembly was convoked, which was composed of deputies 
from all the orders, and was a sort of States-general of ancient 
Russia. The proud Russian aristocracy did not allow itself tamely 
to be reduced to this state of independence ; but the kn'iazes 
scattered as provincial or municipal governors through Siberia, 
Kazan, or Astrakhan, or subjected in the capital to rigorous 
surveillance, had become powerless. To ensure the results of 
their cruel policy, the successors of Ivan IV. forbade the 
bearers of certain too illustrious names to marry. 

When the Tzar desired to marry, he addressed a circular to 
the governors of the towns and provinces, commanding them to 
send to Moscow the most beautiful maidens of the empire, or 
at all events those of noble birth. Like Ahasuerus in the Bible, 
like the Emperor Theophilus in the chronicles of Byzantium, 
like Louis the Debonnaire in the narrative of the • Astronomer,' 
he made his selection out of all these beauties. Fifteen hundred 
young girls were assembled for Vassili Ivanovitch to choose from ; 
after the first meeting, 500 of these were sent to Moscow, The 
Grand Prince then made a fresh selection of 300, then of 200, 
then of 100, then of 10, who were examined by the doctors and 
midwives. The most beautiful and the healthiest became the 
Tzarina ; she took a new name, as a sign that she was going to 
begin a new existence. Her father, on becoming father-in law 
of the Tzar, also changed his name ; her relations became the 
nearest relations {proches) of the prince, constituted his compan- 
ions, undertook the care of everything, and governed the empire 
like the house of their imperial relative. The dispossessed minis- 
ters and friends tried in secret to reconquer their lost power by 
putting the new sovereign to death, and did not hesitate to have 
recourse to magic and poison. Many of these imperial brides 
never survived their triumphs, and, suddenly attacked by 
mysterious maladies, died before their coronation day. All the 


successors of Vassili Ivanovitch, even including Alexis Mikhai- 
lovitch, instituted these assemblages of beauty for the choice of 
their wives. It was the privilege of the sovereigns of Moscow 
and of the princes of their blood. 

The men of the droujina or of the surrounding of the prince 
thought it beneath their dignity or above their power to serv^ 
him otherwise than in war or justice. The work of the pen had 
to be confided to the sons of the priests and merchants — the diah 
whose beginnings were as humble as those of the Capetian law 
yers, seated at the feet of the peers of France ; like them, thej 
ended by taking the place of the great lords. The administration 
of the State was entrusted to twenty or \.\-\\x\.y prikazes or bureaux, 
whose numbers and functions varied at different times. There 
was notably the prikaz of provisions, that of drinks, and that of 
the pantry, which were all concerned with the commissariat of 
the Court. The duties were very heavy, as not only the Tzar, 
the Tzarina, and the princes of the blood kept an open table, 
but, in accordance with patriarchal and family ideas, the prince 
was supposed to feed from his own table the nobles and function- 
aries lodged beyond the palace. He was obliged to send them 
daily, cooked meats, wines, and fruits. There was the prikaz of 
the gold and silver cup, that of the wardrobe, of pharmacy, of 
horses, of the falconry, of games, to which belonged comedians 
buffoons, dwarfs, fools, keepers of bears and dogs ready to 
fight with the bears, the menagerie of rare animals, chess, cards, 
and in general everything that served to amuse the Tzar, 
The prikaz kazennyi, or " of the crown," had under its con- 
trol the manufactures fabricating the golden and silken stuffs, 
of which the prince had a monopoly, and the depot of the pre- 
cious Siberian furs. It furnished the presents to be distributed 
among the clergy, the boyards, the ambassadors of foreign powers, 
and the Greek monks who came from Byzantium or Mount Athos, 
to ask for alms. The prikazes of the great palace, of the quarter, 
of the revenue, and of the tax on liquors, were concerned with 
the finances. There were also those of the imperial family, of 
secret aft'airs, of petitions, posts, and police ; of the buildings of 
the Tzar, slaves, monasteries, streltsi, embassies, and artillery. 
The prikazes of Oustiougue, of Kazan, of Gal itch, of Kostroma, 
of Little Russia, and Siberia, had a territorial competence. 
Usually the expenses of such and such a bureau were defrayed 
by the produce of taxes on a given town or province. 

The State revenues were composed : i. Of that of the de- 
mesne, including thirty-six towns and their territory, the inhabi- 
tants of which paid their dues either in kind or in money. 2. 
Of the tagla, an annual impost on every 60 measures of corn. 


3. Of the podate, a fixed tax on every dvor or fire. 4. The 
produce of the custom-houses, and of the excess of the municipal 
dues. 5. The tax on the public baths. 6. The farming-out of 
the Crown taverns. 7. The fines and expenses of justice, the 
confiscations pronounced by the "tribunal of the brigands." 
Fletcher, who visited Russia in the time of Boris Godounof, 
valued the whole of these revenues at 1,223,000 roubles of their 
money. The Tzar annually received besides, furs and other 
things from Siberia, Permia, and the Petchora ; he exchanged 
them himself with the Turkish, Persian, Armenian, Bokharian, 
or Western merchants, who came to the fairs or landed at the 
ports of the empire. Further, the Crown, after having allowed 
the officers to gorge themselves some time at the expense of the 
people, reserved to itself the power of calling them to justice, 
and of depriving them of part, or the whole, of their booty. The 
Tzar, who, like the ancient despots of Egypt and the East, had 
already monopolized certain branches of commerce, kept up an 
undignified rivalry with his own subjects. He sent agents into 
special provinces, who seized on all the productions of the country, 
furs, wax, and honey ; forced the proprietors to sell them to 
them at a low price, and then obliged the English of Arkhangel 
or the merchants of Asia to buy them at a high rate ; he even laid 
hands on the goods brought by these merchants, and made the 
Russian tradesmen pay dear for them, forbidding them to pur 
chase from others till ihe warehouses of the Tzar were emptied. 
Fletcher exposes many other means of extortion, to which the 
Tzarian government periodically had recourse. 

The grades of courts of civil justice were three : i. The tri- 
bunals of the starost of the district, and of the hundred men, 
a magistrate established for every hundred ploughs. 2. The 
tribunal of the voievode, in the head-city of each province. 
3. The Supreme Court of Moscow. In spite of the Codes of 
Ivan III. and Ivan IV., the law was so confused and uncertain 
that Fletcher said of it, "There is no written law in Russia." 
The mode of procedure was that of the Carolingian age ; if a 
man could neither produce witnesses nor written proofs, the 
judge could take the oath of one of the parties. Often the value 
of an oath was confirmed by a judicial duel. The champions, 
says Herberstein, loaded themselves with arms and heavy 
armor. They were so embarrassed by all this weight of iron, 
that a Russian was invariably overcome by a foreigner, and Ivan 
III. forbade foreigners to fight with his subjects. Often the 
parties had themselves represented by hired champions, and 
then the combat became a comedy, the mercenaries only think- 
ing how to spare themselves. 



The legislation in the matter of debts equalled in rigor that 
of the Roman law of the Twelve Tables. The insolvent debtor 
was subjected to \.\\& prave'ge ; that is, tied up half-naked on a 
public place, and beaten three hours a day. This punishment 
was repeated for thirty or forty days. If by that time no one 
was moved by his lamentations and cries to pay his debt for him 
he was allowed to be sold, and his wife and children let out to 
hire ; if he had none, he became the slave of the creditor. The 
penal legislation was frightful. In cases of accusation of theft, 
murder, or treason, the accused was subjected to tortures worthy 
of a Spanish Inquisitor. The punishments were infinitely varied: 
a man might be hung, beheaded, broken on the wheel, impaled, 
drowned under the ice, or knouted to death. A wife who had 
murdered her husband " was buried alive up to her neck ; " 
heretics went to the stake ; sorcerers were burned alive in an 
iron cage ; coiners had liquid metal poured down their throats. 
We must not forget the death of '" ten thousand pieces," the tor- 
ment in which the sides were torn away by iron hooks, and all 
the varieties of mutilation. On the other hand, a noble who 
slew a mougik was only fined or whipped. The noble who killed 
his slave suffered no penalty ; he could do what he liked with 
his own. 

Before the creation of the patriarchate, the highest dignity in 
the Russian Church was that of the Metropolitan of Moscow. 
Then came the six Archbishops of Novgorod, Rostof, Smolensk, 
Kazan, Pskof, and Vologda; the six Bishops of Riazan, Tver, 
Kolomenskod, Vladimir, Souzdal, and Kroutiski or Sarai, whose 
dioceses were immense. This Church was as dependent on the 
Tzar as that of Byzantium had been on the Emperors ; at the 
expense of a few formalities he could create a prelate or a new 
see. The bishops were selected from the Black Clergy ; that 
is, the monks who had taken the vow of chastity. Their reve- 
nues were large and their ceremonies imposing. " As for exhort- 
ing or instructing their sheep," says Fletcher, " they have neither 
the habit of it nor the talent for it, for all the clergy are as pro- 
foundly ignorant of the Word of God as of all other learning." 
With the secular or White Clergy, marriage was not only a right, 
but a duty. Their manners and education hardly distinguished 
them from the peasants, and like them, they were sometimes 
subjected to the most degrading chastisements. The convents 
were numerous, very full, and very rich ; that of St. Sergius, at 
Troitsa, possessed 110,000 souls, — that is, male peasants. All 
broken men took refuge there ; on the other hand, the councils 
fulminated against the vagabond monks who infested the country. 
More than once the monasteries served as prisons for disgraced 


nobles, who there led a gay and noisy life, like the Frank nobles 
of oiher days in the cloisters of the Merovingian churches. 
Delicate meats were sent them from the table of the Tzar — stur- 
geons, sterlets, figs, dry raisins, oranges, pepper, and saffron. 

In a letter to the monks of St. Cyril on the White Lake, Ivan 
IV. blames with a mixture of severity and irony their lenity 
towards the imprisoned boyards. " In my youth," he writes, 
" when we were at St. Cyril, if dinner happened to be late, and 
if the intendant asked a sterlet or any other fish of the cellarer, 
he would reply, ' I have no orders about it ; I have only prepared 
what I was ordered. Now it is night, and I can give you nothing; 
I fear the sovereign, but I fear God more.' " " See," continues 
Ivan, " what was the severity of the rule. They fulfilled the word 
of the prophet : ' Speak the truth, and have no shame before the 
Tzar.' To-day my boyard Cheremetief reigns in his cell like a 
Tzar; my boyard Khabarof pays him visits with the monks. 
They drink as if in lay society. Is it a wedding ? is it a baptism ? 
The captive distributes pieces of iced fruits, spiced bread, and 
sweetmeats. Beyond the monastery there is a house filled with 
provisions. Some say that strong drinks are gradually smug- 
gled into the cell of Cheremetief. Now in monasteries it is 
against the rules to have foreign wines ; how much more, then, 
strong waters .'' " 

The orthodox faith, deprived of the stimulus of liberty and 
instruction, tended to become mere routine. Salvation was 
gained by hearing long liturgies, by multiplying Slavonic orisons, 
by making hundreds of prostrations and genuflexions, by telling 
rosaries, and by frequenting shrines. The most celebrated 
centres were the catacombs of Kief, where slept the incorrupti- 
ble bodies of the saints, and where dwell their successors with- 
out ever seeing the light of day ; the monastery of St. Cyril, on 
the White Lake ; of St. Sergius, at Troitsa ; and the cathedral 
of St. Sophia, at Novgorod. Men prostrated themselves at the 
tombs of St. Peter and St. Alexis of Moscow ; before the won- 
der-working virgins of Vladimir, Smolensk, Tischvin, and Pskof. 
The most pious journeyed as far as the sacred Mount Athos, 
and the city of Constantinople, full of blessed relics, though pol- 
luted by the presence of the Turk; nay, further still, to the tomb 
of Christ, to Golgotha, to Mount Sinai, wherever orthodox com- 
munities disputed possession with Catholic communities. 

The national army was, like the Tatar army, chiefly com- 
posed of cavalry. The stolniki, spalniki, and other young cour- 
tiers, formed an Imperial Guard of about 8000 men. All the 
gentlemen of the empire, dvoriane, or dieti-boyarski/, were con- 
fined to the mounted ranks ; the revenues of their lands were 



counted as pay for these men of service {sloujilii lioudi) ; the an- 
cient distinction between the p07nestie (fiefs) and the votc/iiny 
(free allods) was ahnost abolished. It was nearly ihe regime of 
the fiefs of the West, or of the ziams and timars of Turkey. 
This noble cavalry could reckon 80,000 horsemen ; with the 
levy of free peasants, it mounted up to 300,000. To this we 
must join the irregular cavalry, composed of the Cossacks of the 
Don and the Terek, of Tatars and Bachkirs. The national in- 
fantry was constituted — i, by the datotc/mic iioudi, ■g^z.s^.nis of 
the monasteries, churches, and domains ; 2, by the strelisi, free 
archers, or communal soldiers, organized in the time of Ivan IV., 
and who, in Moscow alone, formed a body of 12,000 men. Then 
came the artillery, and the soldiers told off to the goulidigorod^ 
the "city that walks," movable ramparts of wood, which were 
used both in sieges and in the open country, where the Russian 
troops, if they were not protected, shov/ed little firmness. In 
the 15th century, foreign mercenaries began to be enlisted — 
Poles, Hungarians, Greeks, Turks, Scotch, Scandinavians, 
armed and disciplined after the European fashion, and enrolled 
under the names of ritters, soldiers, and dragoons. History has 
preserved the names of some of their leaders : Rosen the Ger- 
man, and Margeret the Frenchman, who has left us some curious 
memoirs of the False Dmitri. 

The equipment of the national troops was completely Oriental. 
They had long robes, high saddles, short stirrups, rich capari- 
sons, scale or ring armor. The Tzar himself went into battle 
with his lance, bow and quiver. The army was always divided 
into five divisions — the main army, the right and left wings, the 
van and rear guards. Each was commanded bv two voievodes 
of unequal rank, without counting the voievode of the artillery 
or of the movable camp, and the atamans of the streltsi and of 
the Cossacks. The grades of the regular army were those of 
the tysatski or chiliarch, the centurion, the commander of fifty, 
and the deciatski, or commander of ten. All obeyed the grand 
voievode, or general-in-chief. Each soldier brought provisions 
for four months, and the Tzar furnished nothing, except oc- 
casionally some corn. The men lived almost entirely on biscuit, 
dried fish or bacon, and proved capable of enduring much 
fatigue. The campaigns never lasted long, and only part of the 
army was permanent. 

From this time Russia sought to enter into regulai relations 
with foreign Powers. Her diplomatic traditions were those of 
the East or Byzantium. Her first ambassadors were the Greek 
Dmitri Trakhaniotes, and the Italian Marco Ruffo, sent into 
Persia. They treated with most deference the neighboring 


States, not those which were most powerful. Whilst they sent 
a simple courier {gonets) to the Emperor, and the kings of France, 
England, and Spain, they despatched boyards, accompanied by 
diaks, to Sweden, Denmark, and Poland. The. prikaz oi the em- 
bassies, which had under its orders fifty translators and seventy 
interpreters of all languages, gave them their safe conduct, de- 
tailed instructions, letters for the foreign sovereign, presents, 
two years' pay, and a certain number of furs of costly materials 
from the prikaz of the Crown, which they were to do their best 
to sell at a high price. The Russian ambassador, like those of 
the Greeks and Tatars, was also a commission agent for the 
benefit of the Tzar. The envoys were recommended to avoid 
all insolence, and to watch their men, but to display the greatest 
luxury, to exact due payment of all honors, and, at the peril of 
their lives, never to suffer the Tzar's titles to be diminished — 
titles which were rather complicated, as he enumerated all his 
subject States. The mercantile preoccupations of the Russian 
ambassadors, and their eternal quarrels about etiquette, rendered 
them unbearable at all the European Courts. On their return 
they were summoned before the Tzar, gave him a detailed ac- 
count of their mission, and handed over to him the journal of 
their tour and the notes of all that they had observed in the dis- 
tant countries. From the i6th century a shrewd and observant 
spirit is noticeable in their relations, which is not unworthy of 
the wisdom of their masters, the Byzantines. 

When foreign ambassadors arrived in Russia, they were 
treated with magnificence and distrust. From the time they 
crossed the frontier, they and their people were fed, housed, and 
provided with carriages, but a. pristaf a.tt3.ched to their persons 
watched carefully that they obtained no interviews with the 
natives, nor information about the state of the country. They 
were taken through the richest and most populous provinces ; 
the citizens were everywhere required to meet them on their 
route, dressed in their costliest clothes. At Moscow a palace of 
the Tzar was assigned them as a residence, and they were fed 
from his table. Their first interview took place with great pomp 
in the Palace of Facets {Granavitaia pala'id). The walls of the 
hall were hung with magnificent tapestries ; gold and silvor 
vessels, of Asiatic form, shone on the dais. The Tzar, crown on 
head, sceptre in hand, seated on the throne of Solomon, sup- 
ported by the mechanical lions, which roared loudly, surrounded 
by his ryndis in long white caftans and armed with the great 
silver axe, by his sumptuously-dressed boyards, and by his clergy 
in their simple costume, received their letters of credit. He 
asked the ambassador for news of his master, and how he had 
travelled. If the Tzar were not contented with him, the am- 

HIS TOR Y OF K US SI A. 2 1 7 

bassadors' palace became a prison where rko native might pene- 
trate, and carefully-studied humiliations were practised to extract 
from him concessions or to abridge his stay. 


The lower classes of Muscovy were composed of three ele- 
ments : — I. The slave, or kholop, properly so called, the matuip- 
lum of the Romans, a man taken in war, sold by himself or some 
one else, or son of a kholop. 2. The peasant inscribed on the 
lands of a noble, the colonus adscriptius of the Roman Empire, 
whose person was legally free, but who was to be reduced by 
means of a more and more rigorous legislation to the condition 
of krepostnyi or serf of the glebe. 3. The free cultivator, who 
lived like a farmer on the lands of another, and had the right to 
change his master, but who was soon to be mingled with the 
preceding class. 

It was the inscribed peasants who constituted almost the whole 
of the rural population. In the ancient provinces the peasant 
might consider himself as the primitive inhabitant of the soil. 
He was only made subject to the gentleman in order to secure 
to the latter an income sufficient for military service ; he there- 
fore continued to look on himself as the true proprietor. In 
these rural masses, the primitive features of the Slav organiza- 
tion were preserved in all their vigor. It was the commune, or 
mir, and not the individuals, who possessed the land ; it was the 
commune that was responsible to the Tzar for the tax, for the 
con>e'e and dues to the lord. This responsibility armed the com- 
mune with an enormous power over its members, and this power 
embodied itself. in the starost, assisted by elders. In the bosom 
of the commune the family was not organized less severely, less 
tyrannically than the mir. The father of the family had over his 
wife, his sons, married or single, and their wives, an authority 
almost as absolute as that of the starost over the commune, or 
the Tzar over the empire. The paternal authority became 
harder and more stern from the contact with serfage and the 
despotic rule. Ancient barbarism was still intact among these 
ignorant people : the graceful customs or the savage manners, 
the poetic or cruel superstitions of the early Slavs, were perpet- 
uated by them. The Russian peasant remained a pagan under 
his veneer of orthodoxy. His funeral songs seem destitute of 
all Christian hope. His marriage songs preserve the tradition 
of the purchase or capture of the bride. The sad lot of the 
rustic was yet to be aggravated during the three centuries of 
progress which the upper classes had still to accomplish. In 
Vol. 1 Kussia 10 


view of the State, as of the proprietor, he tended more and more 
to become a beast of burden, a productive force to be used and 
abused at pleasure. 

The Russian towns were composed first of a fortress or 
kreful, where at need a garrison of " men of the service " could 
be sent, the walls being generally of wood ; next of faubourgs or 
J>ossads, inhabited by the citizens or possadskie. They were 
governed by voievodes nominated by the prince, or by a starost 
or mayor who was elected by an assembly of the inhabitants, 
nobles, priests, or citizens, but was always a gentleman. The 
starost governed the town and the district depending on it. As 
the citizens paid the heaviest taxes, they were forbidden to quit 
the town ; they were, as during the last days of the Roman Em- 
pire, bound to the city glebe. Alexis Mikhailovitch was after- 
wards to attach the pain of death to this prohibition. To assess 
the impost, the starost convoked at once both the deputies of 
the town and those of the rural communes. The impost of the 
iagla was paid by the town collectively, in proportion to the 
number of fires, and all the people were collectively responsible 
for each other to the State. 

In the burgess class may be counted the merchants, whose 
Russian name of gosti (guests and strangers) shows how far 
commerce still was from being acclimatized in this land and 
under this regime. Muscovy produced in abundance leather 
from oxen ; furs from the blue and black fox, the zibeline, the 
beaver, and the ermine ; wax, honey, hemp, tallow, oil from the 
seal, and dried fish. From China, Bokhara, and Persia, she re- 
ceived silks, tea, and spices. The Russian people are naturally 
intelligent and industrious, but still commerce languished. 
Fletcher, the Englishman, has assigned as the reason for this 
decay, the insecurity created by anarchy and despotism. The 
mougik did not care either to save or to lay by. He pretended 
to be poor and miserable, to escape the exactions of the prince 
and the plunder of his agents. If he had money, he buried it, 
as one in fear of an invasion. " Often," says the English 
writer, " you will see them trembling with fear, lest a boyard 
should know what they have to sell. I have seen them at times, 
when they had spread out their wares so that you might make a 
better choice, look all round them, as if they feared an enemy 
would surprise them and lay hands on them. If I asked them 
the cause, they would say to me, ' I was afraid there might be a 
noble or one of the " sons of boyards " here ; they would take 
away my merchandise by force.' " " The merchants and the 
citizens," says M. Leroy-Beaulieu, " could with difficulty become 
a powerful class in a country cut off from Europe and the sea, 


and cut off, too, from all great commercial routes by the Lithu- 
anians, the Teutonic Order, and the Tatars." The citizen, like the 
inhabitant of the French towns of the 14th century, was only a 
sort of villain ; he wore the costume of a peasant, and lived 
almost like him. The merchants were really what they were 
called by Ivan the Terrible — the mougiks of commerce. 


Only two more facts were needed to give to Russian society 
the same Asiatic character which we noted already in the des- 
potism of the Tzars and the communism of the people : domestic 
slavery, and the seclusion of women. 

Besides the joeasants more or less attached to the glebe, all 
Russian proprietors kept in their castles, or in their town-houses 
at Moscow, a multitude of servants like those who encumbered 
the senators' palaces in imperial Rome. A great lord always 
gathered round him many hundreds of these dvorovie, both men 
and women, bought or born in the house, whom he never paid, 
whom he fed badly, and who served him badly in return, but 
whose numbers served to give an idea of the wealth of their 
master. The cortege of a noble on his way to the Kremlin may 
be compared to that of a Japanese daimio. A long file of 
sledges or chariots, a hundred horses, outriders who made the 
people stand back by blows with their whips ; a crowd of armed 
men, who escorted the noble ; and behind a host of dvoroviS, 
often with naked feet beneath their magnificent liveries, filled 
with their stir and noise the stretis oi Bie'lyi-gorod. These dom- 
estic slaves were subjected, without distinction of sex, to the 
most severe discipline, and were forced to submit to all the cruel 
or voluptuous caprices of their masters, and, like the slaves of 
antiquity, were exposed to the most frightful chastisements. 
Whilst the registered colon was attached to the land, the kholopy 
could be sold, either by heads or by families, without compunc- 
tion. Wives were separated from their husbands, and children 
from their parents. 

The custom of secluding women is older than the Tatar 
invasion. The Russian Slavs were Asiatics, even before they 
were subdued by the Mongols. Byzantium had likewise far 
more influence than Kazan on Russian manners. Now, in 
ancient Athens, and in the Constantinople of the Middle Ages, 
the matron and the young girl were alike obliged to remain 
in the gyticeceum, which became in Moscow the terem or verkh 
(upper apartment). In Russia, as in the Rome of the Twelve 


Tables, the woman was always a minor. This was one con« 
sequence of the jDatriarchal organization of the family. She 
always remained under the guardianship of her father, her hus- 
band's father, an uncle, an elder brother, or a grandfather. The 
Russian monks translated for her use the sermons of the monks 
of the Lower Empire, which enjoined the wife " to obey her 
husband as the slave obeys his master ; " to consider herself 
only as the " property of the man ; " never to allow herself to 
be called gospoja, or mistress, but to look on her husband as her 
gospodine or lord. The father of the family had the right to 
correct her, like one of his children or slaves. The priest Sil- 
vester, in his ' Domostroi',' only advises him not to employ too 
thick sticks, or staffs tipped with iron ; nor humiliate her unduly 
by whipping her before his men, but, without anger or violence, 
to correct her moderately in private. No woman dared to ob- 
ject to this chastisement ; the most robust would allow herself 
calmly to be beaten by a feeble husband. 

The Russian proverb says, " I love thee like my soul, and I 
dust thee like my jacket." Herberstein mentions a Muscovite 
woman who, having married a foreigner, did not believe herself 
loved, as he never beat her. At home the Russian woman was 
hid behind the curtains of the terem ; in the street, by those of 
her litter. Over her face fell X\iQ.fata, a sort of nun's veil. It 
was an outrage even to raise the eyes to the wife of a noble, 
and high treason to see the face of the wife of the Tzar. A 
stranger might have thought himself at Stamboul or Ispahan. It 
appeared so highly necessary that this fragile being should re- 
main at home, that she was allowed to dispense even with going 
to church. Her church was her own house, where she had to 
occupy herself with prayers, pious reading, prostrations, genu- 
flexions, and alms, and was surrounded by beggars, monks, and 
nuns. The priest Silvester also wished her to superintend her 
house, be the first to rise, to watch over her men and maid' 
servants, to distribute their tasks, and work herself with hei 
own hands, like Lucrece of old, or the wise women of the 
Proverbs. In reality she had many other ways of occupying 
her time The toilette of the Russian boyarines was very com- 
plicated. •' They paint themselves all colors," says Petrei ; 
" not only their faces, but their eyes, neck, and hands. They lay 
on white, red, blue, and black. Black eyelashes they tint white, and 
white ones black, or some dark color, but they put on the paint 
so badly that it is visible to every one. At the time of my visit 
to Moscow the wife of an illustrious boyard, who was exceed- 
ingly beautiful, declined to paint herself, but she was an object 
of scorn to all the other women. ' She despises our customs/ 


said they. They induced their husbands to complain to the 
Tzar, and obtained an imperial order to make her paint." 
Stoutness was the ideal of Turkish and Tatar beauty, so the 
Russians did all in their power to deform their slender figures, 
and, by means of idleness and drugs, managed to succeed. As 
to the men, they always wore a long beard and long dresses. 
To shave the beard like the European nations, was, said Ivan the 
Terrible, " a sin that the blood of all the martyrs could not 
cleanse. Was it not to deface the image of man, created by 
God ? " 

The influence of Byzantine monachism is also to be found 
in the objection to all innocent amusements. Cards, and even 
chess, were forbidden ; music and songs glorifying the ancient 
heroes of Russia were condemned as " diabolic " ; the noble 
exercises of the chase and dancing were not allowed. " If they 
give themselves up at table," says the ' Domostroi," " to filthy 
conversation ; if they play the lute or the goussla ; if they dance, 
or jump, or clap their hands, then, as smoke chases the bees, 
the angels of God are made to fly from that table by those 
devilish words, and demons take their place. Those who give 
themselves up to diabolic songs ; those who play the lute, the 
tambourine, or the trumpet ; those who amuse themselves with 
bears, dogs, and falcons — with dice, chess, or tric-trac, will to- 
gether go to hell, and together will be damned." 

Thanks to the general ignorance, there was no intellectual 
life in Russia ; thanks to the seclusion of women, there was no 
society. Compared with the gallant and witty society of Poland, 
Russia seems a vast monastery. The devil lost nothing in the 
long run. The nobles, living in the midst of slaves subjected 
to their caprices, degraded themselves while they degraded their 
victims. Debauchery and drunkenness were the national sins. 
Rich and poor, young and old, women and children, often 
dropped down dead drunk in the streets, without surprising any- 
one. The priests, in their visits to their sheep, got theologically 
drunk. " Even at the houses of the great lords," says M. 
Zabidline, " no feast was gay and joyous unless every one was 
drunk. Tt was precisely in drunkenness that the gayety con- 
sisted. The guests were never gay if they were not drunk." 
Even to-day, " to be merry " signifies to have been drinking. 
The preachers, even, while attacking the national vice, touched it 
delicately. " My brothers," says one of them, " what is worse 
than drunkenness .'' You lose memory and reason, like a mad- 
man, who knows not what he does. Is this mirth, my friends, 
mirth according to the law and glory of God ? The drunkard 
is senseless. He lies like a corpse. If you speak to him, he 


docs not answer, He foams, he stinks, he grunts like a brute. 
Think of his poor soul which grows foul in its vile body, which 
is its prison. Drunkenness sends our guardian angels away, 
and makes the devil merry. To be drunk, is to perform sacri- 
fices to Satan. The devil rejoices, and says, ' No ; the sacri- 
fices of the pagans never caused me half so much joy and happi- 
ness as the intoxication of a Christian.' Fly, then, my brothers, 
the curse of drunkenness. To drink is lawful, and is to the 
glory of God, who has given us wine to make us rejoice. The 
Fathers were far from forbidding wine, but we must never drink 
ourselves drunk." 

Their only diversions were, in spite of the ' Domostroi,' the 
jests of the buffoons, who, like the writers of the French fu' 
bliaux, never spared Churchmen ; the coarse pleasantries of court 
fools diVidfolles, who were the inseparable companions of the great, 
and were to be found even in the monasteries ; hunts with falcons 
and hounds, and bear fights. All these festivities were accom- 
panied with music, and sometimes a blind singer would come 
and celebrate the bogatyrs of Old Russia. The rich never will- 
ingly went to sleep without being lulled by tales told by some 
popular story-teller. Ivan the Terrible always had three, who 
succeeded each other at his bedside. Soon, under Alexis 
Mikhailovitch, theatrical representations in imitation of Europe 
were to begin. 

All Western superstitions were current in Russia, which also 
added follies of her owm. The people believed in horoscopes, 
diviners, sorcery, magic, the miraculous virtues of certain herbs 
or certain formulae, the evils produced by " lifting the foot- 
marks" of an enemy, in bewitched swords, in love philtres, in 
were-wolves, ghosts and vampires, which play such a terrible part 
in the popular tales of Russia. Their terror of sorcerers is 
shown by the horrible deaths they made them die. The most 
enliorhtened Tzars shared this weakness, and Boris Godounof 
made all his servants swear " never to have recourse to magi- 
cians, male or female, or to any other means of hurting the 
Tzar, the Tzarina, or their children ; never to cast spells by the 
traces of their feet or of their carriages." They had more con- 
fidence in the receipts of a wise woman, in holy water in which 
the relics had been dipped, than in doctors, whom they only re- 
garded as another variety of sorcerers. Nothing was more 
difficult and dangerous than the early exercise of this profession. 
If the doctor did not succeed in curing his patient, he was pun- 
ished as a malicious magician. One of these unfortunate peo- 
ple, a Jew, was executed under Ivan III. in a public place for 
having allowed a Tzardvitch to die. Anthony, another, a Ger- 



man by nation, was accused of having put a Tatar prince to 
death, and delivered to his relatives to suffer by the lex talionis. 
He was stabbed. Towards the end of the i6th century the 
situation of doctors was somewhat ameliorated ; but when a 
Tzarina or a great lady had to be attended, whose face they were 
never allowed to see, and whose pulse they might only touch 
through a muslin covering, what proper means had they of tak- 
ing a diagnosis ? 

Such was ancient Russia, — that European China discovered 
and described by the European travellers of the i6th and 17th 
centuries, by Herberstein, Mayerberg, Cobenzel, envoys of Aus- 
tria ; Chancellor, Jenkinson, and Fletcher, envoys of England ; 
the Venetians Contarini and Marco Foscarini ; the Roman 
merchant Barberini ; Ulfeld the Dane ; Petreii the Swede ; the 
Germans Heidenstein, Eric Lassota, Olearius ; Possevino the 
Jesuit ; the French captain Jacques Margeret ; the English doc- 
tor Collins, &c. It now remains to speak of literature and the 


Ecclesiastical literature was chiefly composed of a collection 
of ideas borrowed from the Fathers of ' Readings for Every 
Day in the Year,' called ' Waves of Gold,' ' Months of Gold,' 
' Emeralds,' &c. ; or of collections of Lives of the Saints of the 
Greek or Russian Churches. The most considerable monument 
belonging to this last group is the ' Tchetiminei,' a vast compil- 
ation of the Metropolitan Macarius, one of the directors of the 
conscience of Ivan the Terrible. The chronicles are still pro- 
duced, among others the ' Stepennyia knigi,' a history of the 
Russian princes after Vladimir. Besides the great legal collec- 
tion of the 'Code' and of the ' Stoglaf,' we must mention the 
'Domostroi' of the Pope Silvester, Minister of Ivan IV. This is 
a collection of precepts instructing readers in the arts of keep- 
ing house and securing salvation. It enumerates the days on 
which swans, cranes, capons, egg-pasties, and cheese are to be 
eaten. It gives receipts for making hydromel, kvass, beer gruel, 
and sweetmeats. It gives bills of fare, and at the same time 
teaches the master of the house how he ought to govern his 
wife, his children, and his servants ; avoid the sin of wicked con- 
versation ; please God, honor the Tzar, the princes, and all per- 
sons of rank; how he should conduct himself well at table, "to 
blow his nose, and to spit without noise, taking care to turn 

224 ^^^ '^OR y OF R USS/A . 

away from the company, and put his foot over the place." The 
* Domosiro' gives tiie characteristics of the Russian civilization, 
as the De Re Rustua of the elder Cato gives those of the an- 
cient Roman civilization. From Cato to Silvester there is an 
evident progress. Whilst the Roman advises that the old oxen, 
the old iron, and the old slaves should be sold, the Pope Silves- 
ter enjoins that " the old servants who are no longer good for 
anything, be fed and clothed, in consideration of their former 
services : this ministers to the salvation of the soul, and we must 
fear the anger of God." "Masters," he says again, "ought to 
be benevolent towards their servants, and give them to eat and 
drink, and warm them properly ; for, if they keep their dvorovi^ 
by force around them, and do not nourish them sufficiently, 
they turn them into bad servants, who lie, steal, are dissipated, 
spoil everything, and get drunk at the tavern. These foolish 
masters sin against God, are despised by their slaves, and con- 
temned by their neighbors." 

" When a man sends his servant to honest people, he should 
knock softly at the great door; when the slave comes to ask 
him what he wants, he should reply, ' I have nothing to do with 
thee, but with him to whom I am sent.' He should only say 
from whom he comes, so that the other may tell his master. On 
the threshold of the chamber he will wipe his feet in the straw; 
before entering he will blow his nose, spit, and say a prayer. If 
no one says amefi to him, he will say a second prayer ; if they 
still keep silence, a third prayer, in a louder voice than the pre- 
ceding ones. If they still do not speak, he will knock at the 
door. On entering, he must bow before the holy images ; then 
he will explain his mission to the master, and during this time 
he must take care not to touch his nose, nor to cough, nor spit ; 
he must conduct himself with propriety, without looking to the 
right or the left. If he is left alone, he must examine nothing 
belonging to the master of the house and touch nothing 
neither to eat nor drink. If he is sent to carry anything, he 
must not look to see what it is ; and if it should be eatable, 
neither his tongue nor his fingers are to know it." 

At the head of the literary movement of the time, Ivan the 
Terrible and his enemy Kourbski occupy a place of honor. 
They exchanged many letters, in which the one displayed a great 
knowledge of sacred and profane literature, close reasoning, and 
bitter irony ; the other an indignant and tragic eloquence. 
Besides these letters, Ivan addressed an admonition to the monks 
of St. Cyril, full of vigor and mocking gravity. The same 
Kourbski has written, in eight books, a passionate history of the 
Tzar who persecuted " the strong ones of Israel, the high-born 


heroes of Russia " ; in his exile in Lithuania he defended 
orthodoxy against the encroachments of Jesuitism and Protes- 
tantism, compiled the ' History of the Council of Florence,' and 
learnt Latin in order to translate into Russian the Fathers of the 

Like his rival Louis XI. in France, Ivan the Terrible was in 
Russia the protector of printing, abhorred by the people as an 
impious art. Mstislavets and the deacon Feodorof printed the 
Acts of the Apostles, and a ' Book of Hours ; ' but later they were 
obliged to fly into Lithuania to escape from accusations of 
heresy and the hate of the people. 

There existed a literature which could do without the art of 
Gutenberg, and which at this time attained its most splendid 
development. This was the literature which from the earliest 
centuries of Russian history had been kept alive on the lips of 
the people, in the memory of the peasants, and which, perpet- 
uated by oral tradition, has at last been collected in our own 
day by Rybnikof, Afanasiet, Schein, Sakharof Kiridevski, 
Bezsonof, Hilferding, Kostomarof, Koulich, Tchoubinski, and 
Dragomanof. The people had their lyric poetry, marriage-songs, 
funeral dirges, rural dance-songs, hymns for Christmas {koliadkt), 
Epiphany, Easter, and the Feasts of St. George and St. John, — 
hymns in which they celebrated the death of winter, the birth of 
spring, the harvest, and preserved the recollections of the ancient 
religions and ancient Slav gods. There were epic songs which 
glorified the legendary exploits of the early heroes of Russia, the 
demi-gods of primitive paganism : Volga Vseslavitch, Sviatogor, 
Mikoula Selianinovitch, Polkane, Dounai, &c. In these songs 
Vladimir, the " Beautiful Sun " of Kief, groups around him, like 
the Charlemagne of the chatisons de gestes and the King Arthur 
of the Breton romances, a whole pleiad of bogatyrs. They have 
immortalized Ilia of Mourom, the hero-peasant ; Dobryna 
Nikititch, the hero-boyard ; Alecha Popovitch, conqueror of the 
gigantic dragon, Tougarine ; Solovei Boudimirovitch, navigator 
of the falcon-ship Potyk, whom the perfidy of an enchantress 
caused to descend alive into the tomb ; Diouk Stepanovitch, who 
crossed the Dnieper at one leap of his horse ; Stavre Godino- 
vitch, the warrior-musician, released by a ruse of his wife from 
the prisons of Vladimir; Thomas Ivanovitch, whom the Princess 
Apraxie calumniated like another Joseph, but for whom God 
worked a miracle ; Vassili, the hero-drunkard, who went from a 
tavern to save Russia ; Sadko, the rich merchant of Novgorod, 
whose maritime adventures form an Odyssey ; the Princess 
Apraxie, who is seated on the throne by the side of Vladimir her 
husband ; the heroines Nastasia and Marina, the Penelope and 

226 ^^S TOR Y OF R USSIA, 

Circe of the Russian epopee ; Maria the White Swan, who 
belongs to the cycle of bird-women ; and Vassilissa, who passed 
herself off as a bogatyr, and beat all the athletes of Vladimir 
Such were the heroes of Kief and Novgorod. 

Historical heroes belong to the cycle of Moscow : Dmitri, 
the vanquisher of the Tatars ; Michael of Tchernigof, Alexandei 
Nevski, and Ivan the Terrible, around whom are grouped the 
songs of the taking of Kazan, the conquest of Siberia, and the 
famous bv-lines entitled ' The Tzar wishes to kill his Son,' ' The 
Tzar sends the Tzarina to a Convent,' and ' How Treason was 
introduced into Russia.' This epic current flows on up to the 
19th century; and others, born of the shock of events on the 
popular imagination, celebrate the deeds of Skopine Chouiski, 
the wars of Peter the Great, the victories of Elizabeth and 
Catherine II., the campaigns of Souvorof, and even the invasion 
of Russia by the " King Napoleon." 

Narratives, sometimes in prose and sometimes in poetry, 
glorify the heroes of the Eastern epopee : Akir of Nineveh, 
Solomon the Wise, Alexander of Macedon, and Rousslan 
Lazarevitch. Wonderful stories are told by the peasants of 
Helen the Fair, of the Tzar of the Sea, and of Vassilissa the 
Wise ; of the Seven Simeons ; of the adventures of Ivan, Son of 
the King, and of the lovely Nastasia ; of the Baba-Yaga, and of 
the King of the Serpents. There were religious verses, which 
were carried by the blind kalieki, who sang the praises of the 
Russian saints from village to village — St. George the Brave, 
and St. Dmitri of Solun, vanquishers of dragons and infidels ; 
Boris and Gleb, sons of Vladimir the Baptist ; St. Theodosius, 
founder of the catacombs of Kief ; Daniel the Pilgrim, who 
visited Jerusalem ; and others who belong almost as much to the 
Slav mythology as to the Christian hagiography. Lastly, there 
are satirical tales, light and biting as French fables, turning into 
ridicule the greed of the popes, and the interested calculations 
of their wives. 

Thanks to the Greeks who fled from Constantinople, and 
their pupils the Italians, Russia had a sort of artistic Renaissance 
from the 15th to the 17th century, under the same influences as 
the West. The revolution was, however, less complete in Mus- 
covy than in Russia ; there was no need to substitute the round 
for the pointed arch, since Russia had no Gothic churches, and 
the Roman Byzantine stj'le, borrowed in the nth century by St. 
Sophia at Novgorod and St. Sophia at Kief from St. Sophia at 
Constantinople, was perpetuated, under the influence of religious 
ideas and unbroken traditions, as a legacy from Byzantium. 
There was no sort of change in painting ; and even in the 



present day, in the Russian convents, the hieratic usage causes 
the saints and the Mother of God to be painted as they might 
have been painted by Pansdlinos in the loih century in the 
churches of Mount Athos. The Renaissance chiefly manifests 
itself by the number and magnificence of the orthodox churches 
with which Italian artists then " illuminated " Old Russia, and 
by the greater perfection of their modes of building. It was then 
that Moscow became worthy by her new monumental splendors 
to be the capital of a great empire ; it was then that she became 
the " Holy City," with forty times forty churches, with innumer- 
able cupolas of gold, of silver, and of blue, which the Russian 
pilgrim, kneeling on the Hill of Prostrations, salutes from afar 

Moscow was at that time composed : i. Of the Kreml or 
Kremlin, a fortified enclosure in the form of a triangle, of which 
the smallest side rests on the Moskowa, and the apex is turned 
towards the north. 2. Of the Kitai-gorod, not, as so many 
travellers translate it, the China City, but perhaps derived from 
Kitai-gorod in Podolia, the birthplace of Helena, mother of Ivan 
IV., foundress of the Kitai-gorod of Moscow, which encloses 
the bazaars and the palaces of the nobles, and is separated from 
the Kremlin by a vast space that they call the Red Place or 
Beautiful Place. 3. Of the Bie'lyi-gorod, or White City, which 
surrounds this double centre of the Kremlin and the Kitai-gorod 
as the outer skin of an almond encloses the two cotyledons. 
4. Of the Zemlianyi-gorod, or City of the Earthen Ramparts, 
enveloping in its turn the White City, enclosing the faubourgs, 
gardens, woods, lakes, and vast unbuilt-on spaces, then occupied 
by the slobodes of the streltsi. 5. On the outer circle of Moscow, 
like detached forts, stood the fortified convents with white walls, 
which more than once sustained the assault of the Poles and the 
Tatars. This huge Asiatic town was a city of contrasts. The 
buildings grouped themselves almost by accident along the 
wide, marshy, tortuous, hardly marked-out streets. Isbas of 
pine, like those of the Russian villages, stood by the side of the 
palaces of the nobles. The people either chose them ready 
made from the yards, or ordered them according to their meas- 
ure. The carpenters built them in two days on the place pointed 
out : they only cost a few roubles. 

Moscow is situated in that part of Russia which is totally 
lacking in stone, and where the forests were formerly thickest. 
In point of fact, it is a city of wood, which a spark might set on 
fire. It had been burned almost entirely under Dmitri DonskoX, 
and twice under Ivan the Terrible ; it was to burn again during 
the Polish invasion of 161 2, and the French invasion of 18 12. 

228 tflS TOR Y OF R USSIA. 

The oukazes of the Tzars ordered certain precautions under 
the most severe penalties : all the fires had to be put out at 
nightfall ; in summer it was absolutely forbidden to have lights 
in the houses, and cooking had to be done in the open air. 
There were no means of extinguishing the fires, and, when one 
broke out, the Muscovites showed themselves as passively fatal- 
istic as the people of the East. 

It was chiefly the Kremlin that profited by the embellish- 
ments undertaken by the two Ivans and their successors. The 
enclosure — of wood before the burning of Tokhtamych — was 
now of solid white stones, cut in facets (thence was derived the 
poetical name of " Holy mother Moscow with the white walls ") ; 
it was surmounted by high and narrow battlements in the form 
of teeth. Eighteen ?owers protected it, and five gates led into 
the interior. These five gates present much originality and 
variety. That of the Saviour was built in 1491 by Pietro So- 
lario of Milan. It is the sacred gate, that cannot be entered 
covered ; formerly obstinate people were forced to kneel down 
before it fifty times. Criminals were allowed to make their last 
prayer before the image of the Saviour, and the new Emperor 
alwavs made his entrance through it on his way to his corona- 
tion at the Assumption. Another Italian built at the same date 
the gate of St. Nicholas of Mojaisk, avenger of perjury, before 
whose image the suitors made oath. That of the Trinity was 
built in the 17th century by Christopher Galloway. 

The wall of the Kremlin, like that of the old imperial palace 
of Byzantium, encloses a quantity of churches, palaces, and 
monasteries. The most celebrated of these churches is the 
Ouspienski Salwr, or the Cathedral of the Assumption, in which 
since the 15th century the Tzars have always made a point of 
being crowned It is their Cathedral of Rheims. Its architect 
was Aristotele Fioraventi, who had already worked for Cosmo 
de Medici, Francis I., Gian Galeazzo of Milan, Matthias Cor- 
vinus, and the Pope Sixtus IV., and whom Tolbousine, am- 
bassador of Ivan III., met at Venice, and engaged for the ser- 
vice of the Tzar. One can hardly believe that the Assumption 
is of the same date as the luminous churches of the Renaissance. 
The architect, or those who inspired him, has here tried to re- 
produce the mysterious obscurity of the old temples of Egypt 
and the East. The cathedral has no windows, but only close- 
barred shot-holes in the walls, which admit into the interior a 
doubtful light, like that which filters through the hole of a dun- 
geon. This pale glow touches the massive pillars covered with 
a tawny gold ; on the tarnished background stand out, severe 
and grave, the faces of the saints and doctors ; it dwells here 


and there on the relief oi the golden iconostase^ covered by mirac- 
ulous images, sprinkled with diamonds and jewels ; it hardly 
lights the representations of the ' Last Judgment ' and the ' End 
of the World,' painted on the walls of the church. All the upper 
part of the lemple is partly enveloped in shadows, like the crypts 
of the Pharaohs ; the pictures which cover the vault can hardly 
be distinguished. The artist has evidently made them for the 
eye of God, not for that of man ; for the eye of man can only 
contemplate them on the rare occasions, such as the Feast of 
the Assumption or a coronation-day, when the whole cathedral 
is illumined to its furthest corners by innumerable wax tapers. 
It seems that Aristotele built this church according to a former 
plan of some other architect, only it is said that, finding the 
constructions already begun not sufficiently solid, he with a bat- 
tering-ram, perfected by himself, overthrew the walls ; that he 
caused new foundations to be dug ; finally, that he taught the 
Russians a better way of baking bricks. At the Assumption is 
the tomb of St. Peter, the first Metropolitan of Moscow, and 
people come here to worship before the holy images of Vladi- 
mir and laroslavl. The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, 
built in 1505, is the St. Denysof the Tzars of Russia : here, in a 
coffin of pine covered with red cloth, sleep Ivan the Terrible 
and his two sons. In the Church of the Annunciation with the 
agate pavement, the marriages of the princes are celebrated. 
In that of the Ascension are the tombs of the sovereigns. The 
Tower of Ivan the Great, 325 feet high, surmounted with a 
golden cupola, with Slavonic inscriptions in letters of gold which 
may be distinguished from afar, with thirty-four bells in the 
carillon, was built in 1600 by Boris Godounof. 

Of the imperial palace built in 1487, only a few fragments 
still remain : the little " Golden Palace," where the Tzarinas re- 
ceived the members of the clergy ; the " Palace of Facets," 
where the solemn audiences of ambassadors were held ; the 
" Red Staircase," from the top of which the Tzar allowed the 
people to contemplate "The light of his eyes;" finally the 
"Terem," with the painted roof, where we still find the dining- 
hall, the hall of council, and that of the oratory — vaulted halls 
still complete, where shine on golden backgrounds the images 
of the saints who protect the Tzar. The Palace of Facets was 
begun in 1487 by the Italian Mario, and finished by Pietro An- 
tonio. The other palaces are the work of the Milanese Aleviso. 
In the Tzarian apartments, rarities imported from the West al- 
ready mixed with the ancient Russian furniture. In 1594 the 
German ambassador presented the Tzar Feodor with a gilt 
clock, on which were marked the planets and the calendar ; and 



in 1597 with another clock, where little figures played on trum* 
pets, Jews' harps, and tambourines each time the hour struck. 

The most curious edifice in Moscow is perhaps the Church 
of Vassiii the Blessed, on the Red Place. It was built by Ivan 
the Terrible in 1554, in memory of the taking of Kazan, and is 
the work of an Italian artist. The legend insists that Ivan put 
out the eyes of the artist, to prevent his building a similar mar- 
vel for others. We must imagine a church surmounted by six 
or eight round cupolas, all of different heights and forms, " some 
beaten into facets, others cut; these carved into diamond points, 
like the ananas, those in spirals ; others, again, marked with 
scales, lozenge-shaped, or celled like a honeycomb."* A power- 
ful imagination has defied all symmetry. From the base to the 
summit the church is covered with colors, which are glaring, and 
even crude. This many-colored monster has the gift of stupefy- 
ing the most blas^ traveller. " You might take it," says Hax- 
thausen, " for an immense dragon, with shining scales, crouch- 
ing and sleeping." Conceive the most brilliant bird of tropical 
forests suddenly taking the shape of a cathedral, and you have 

It was not only architects that Russia owed to Italy. Aris- 
totele Fioraventi coined money for Ivan III., built him a bridge 
of boats over the Volkhof during the expedition to Novgorod, 
cast the cannons which thundered against Kazan, and organized 
his artillery. Paolo Bossio of Genoa cast for him the Tzar- 
pouchka, the king of guns, the giant piece of the Kremlin. Pietro 
of Milan made him arquebuses. The art of the founder shed 
its greatest brilliancy under Boris Godounof, whose effigy adorns 
the queen of bells (Tzar-kolokol), subsequently re-cast under 
Alexis and Anne Ivanovna, the bronze Titan whose weight of 
288,000 pounds could be contained in no belfry, which broke 
every scaffolding, and rests voiceless like a pyramid of bronze 
on its pedestal of masonry, constructed in the beginning of 
this century by Montferrand. 

* Thiophile Gautier, ' Voyage en Russie.' 

aiii TOR y OF K us 61 A. 23 1 


AND BORIS GODOUNOF (1584-1605). 

Feodor Ivanovitch (1584-1^98) — The peasant attached to the glebe — The 
patriarchate — Boris Godounof (159S-1605) — Appearance of the false 


Feodor, son of Ivan IV. and of Anastasla Romanof, resem- 
bled his father in nothing. He had neither his instinctive love 
of cruelty and debauchery, nor his lively intelligence, nor his 
iron will. The throne of the Terrible was occupied by a saint — 
a monk. The power passed naturally to the chamber of the 
boyards. Five among them had special influence over the 
government — Prince Ivan Mstislavski, a descendant of Gedemin ; 
Prince Ivan Chouiski, a descendant of Rurik, a member of a 
family disgraced in the early years of Ivan IV,, but himself cele- 
brated as the defender of Pskof ; and Prince Bogdan Belski, 
another descendant of Rurik. After these three heads of 
princely families came two chiefs of boyard families. Both be- 
came sovereigns, and both owed their elevation to their wives. 
The importance of Nikita Romanof came from his sister, the 
first wife of Ivan IV. ; Boris Godounof owed his to his sister 
Irene, wife of the Tzar Feodor. Minister of Ivan IV., brother 
of the reigning Tzar, Godounof was devoured by an insatiable 
ambition. Sorcerers who had escaped from Ivan the Terrible 
are said to have prophesied that he should become Tzar, but 
that his reign was only to last for seven years. From that time 
his policy consisted in putting aside all rivals — in overcoming 
all the obstacles that lay between him and the throne. 

The Tzar Feodor had a brother, Dmitri, son of Ivan's 
seventh wife. The douma of boyards feared the intrigues of 
which this infant might be made the centre, and, by the advice 
of Godounof, sent him to his appanage Ouglitch, with his 


mother and her relations, the Nagois. Belski, another de- 
scendant of Gedemin, an intelligent and ambitious man, irri- 
tated the people, who besieged the Kremlin, and demanded his 
head. Boris took advantage of such a good opportunity, and 
despatched this rival to Nijni-Novgorod. When Feodor at his 
coronation had placed on his head the crowns of Russia, Kazan 
Astrakhan, and Siberia, it was his maternal uncle, Nikita Ro- 
manof, who governed in his name ; but at his death the power 
passed to the natural chief of a new vre'mia, Boris Godounof. 
There still remained in the council two rivals to Boris. Mstis- 
lavski allowed himself to be implicated in a plot, and was forced 
to become a monk; Prince Chouiski, who had tried to make 
himself a party among the merchants, was accused of treason, 
arrested with all his family, and all were banished to different 
distant towns. The Metropolitan Dionysius, who had taken his 
part, was deposed, and replaced by Job, a man completely at 
the disposal of Godounof, who was now supreme. He induced 
his brother-in-law to grant him the title of Allied Chief Boyard, 
the viceroyalties of Kazan and Astrakhan, and immense terri- 
tories on the Dwina and the Moskowa. His revenues were 
enormous, and he is said to have been able to put a hundred 
thousand men in the field. Nothing could be obtained from the 
sovereign except through Boris ; more powerful than even Ada- 
chef had been, he had an army of clients. It was he who replied 
to the ambassadors, and who received the presents of the Empe- 
ror, of the Queen of England, and of the Khan of the Crimea. 
His enemies were the enemies of the prince. He lacked noth- 
ing that is royal but the title. 

In foreign affairs, the regency of Godounof strengthened the 
prestige of Russia. Batory, who had never ceased to threaten 
revenge, died in 1586. A new danger appeared in this quarter. 
Sigismond, son of the King of Sweden, had schemed successfully 
for the suffrages of the Polish electors. It was to be feared that 
he would one day unite under the same sceptre the two nations 
whom Russia had most cause to dread in Europe. Rodolph of 
Austria, the other candidate, was less dangerous. Austria and 
Russia had the same interests with regard to Turks and Tatars, 
and this identity was one day to result in the almost perpetual 
alliance between the two Powers. Boris put forward Feodor as 
a candidate for the crown of Poland, and the idea of the union 
of the two Slav monarchies under one prince. The Poles 
refused to obey any prince who was not a Catholic; they feared 
that, instead of a fraternal union, the Muscovite would only 
^* join their monarchy to that of Moscow, like a sleeve to a 
coat." The interests of caste were added to national and relig- 

fflSlxm V OF R USSIA. 233 

ious prejudices ; the nobles, who only had in view the weakening 
of the royal power, were not likely to give themselves as master 
a sovereign as absolute as the Tzar of Muscovy. Finally, nothing 
could be done without money in the Polish diets ; Boris was so 
mistaken as to spare it. The negotiations fell to the ground, 
and the prince of Sweden was elected. 

The war with Sweden began again vigorously ; Russia 
recaptured what had been taken from Ivan the Terrible — lam, 
Ivangorod, and Koporie. The Poles, who, since they had a 
Swedish king, did not care to augment the Swedish power, gave 
no assistance. Sigismond Vasa, on his father's death in 1592, 
did indeed see himself for a moment king of both countries ; but 
his zeal for Catholicism, which made him dear to the Poles, 
caused him to be detested by the Swedes. The latter wished 
for a separate government, under the regency of Charles Vasa, 
and they soon after offered him the crown. This union, so 
much dreaded by the Russians, soon ended in a rupture. The 
Poles and Swedes had never before been such bitter enemies, 
and the hatred of the two peoples and the two religions was 
complicated still further by that of the two kings. The occasion 
was favorable for Russia to undertake the conquest of Livonia. 
Boris Godounof had never abandoned this great scheme of Ivan 
the Terrible, only he failed to take the proper means for realizing 
it. Instead of openly allying himself with Sweden against 
Poland, or with Poland against Sweden, he negotiated with both, 
tried to play off one against the other, and ended by alienating 
both equally. The former minister of Ivan the Terrible, the 
intriguing Grand Boyard, was too fond of hidden paths. 

To clear his way to the throne, it was not sufhcient for him 
to be master of the palace and the Court ; he must create him- 
self a strong party in the nation. Boris, who felt himself to be 
hated by the princes and boyards, sought the support of the 
small noblesse and the clergy. Hence resulted two of the most 
important actions of the reign of Feodor — the binding of the 
peasant to the soil, and the institution of the patriarchate. 

The Russian peasant was in fact delivered over to the will 
of his master. In law, he remained a free man, as he was 
allowed to pass from the service of one proprietor to that of 
another. This right brought with it an abuse. The large pro- 
prietors, who, being the richest, could also be the most generous, 
tried to attract to their lands the peasants of the smaller land- 
owners, by insuring them privileges and immunities. We must 
remember that at this epoch the population was very scanty, and 
land had of itself no value. It was precious according to the 
number of laborers who could be induced to settle on it. Thus 



the lands of the smaller proprietors ran the risk of being depop- 
ulated for the benetit of the great lords ; if they lost their 
laborers, the value of the land became proportionately depre- 
ciated. Now the class of small landowners was at this period 
almost the only military class of Russia ; the national cavalry 
was recruited almost entirely from it alone. If the source of 
their revenues were cut off, where would they get the money to 
equip themselves, to answer to the call of the Tzar, according 
to the text of the ordinances, " mounted, armed, and accom- 
panied " .'' Their interest thus became confounded with that of 
the empire, which was soon to become unable to support its 
armies. Boris Godounof found means to save the rights of the 
State, and gain for himself the gratitude of a numerous and 
powerful class. The comfort of the peasant did not trouble 
any one at this epoch. He was an instrument of agriculture, a 
force — nothing more. An edict of Feodor forbade the peasants 
henceforth to go from one estate to another. The free Russian 
krestumine was now attached to the glebe, like the Western serf. 
In the name of the interest of the State and that of the military 
nobles, an immemorial right was extinguished. We must not 
think that these silent masses were insensible. The day of the 
" St. George," when the ancient laws permitted the peasant to 
pass yearly from one domain to another, remained for centuries 
a day of bitter regret. He cursed for long the authors of this 
oukase, and even protested when he had the opportunity ; but 
his protestation took more the form of flight than of revolt. 
The development of Cossack life has a close relation to the 
change in the rural regime ; and the more men sought to bind 
the peasant to the soil, the more his spirit revolted, and the 
more the camps of the Don and the Dniester were filled. The 
Russian peasant never allowed the prescription of this new 
form of slavery to be established ; in one way or another he has 
constantly resisted it. Boris Godounof afterwards partially 
repealed this oukase : while still forbidding them to pass from 
the service of the small to the great proprietor, they were 
allowed to change the mastership of one small landowner for 
that of another. The feeling of the time was not in favor of 
liberty ; the more Russia tended to become a modern State, the 
more her expenses increased, and the- more the Government was 
conscious of the need of assuring the revenues by fixing to the 
soil the population which was subject to the tax and coj-vee. It 
was the crushed peasant who bore the weight of the reform, 
awaiting the day, still very distant, when he also would profit by 
the progress accomplished. 

The other innovation made in the name of Feodor was the 



establishment of the patriarchate. The Russian ecclesiastics 
complained with reason of having to obey patriarchs who were 
themselves only slaves of the infidels. Ancient Rome was pol- 
luted by ihe Pope ; Constantinople, the second Rome, pro- 
faned by the Turk : had not Moscow, the third Rome, a right 
at least to independence ? Boris encouraged these murmurs : 
it was his interest that at the death of the Tzar there should be 
a great ecclesiastical authority standing alone, and that this 
great authority should owe all to him. He profited by the ar- 
rival at Moscow of Jeremiah, Patriarch of Constantinople, to in- 
duce him to found the Russian patriarchate and consecrate 
Archbishop Job, who was a tool of Boris. The latter had now 
a powerful friend. 

Boris had need to create for himself a strong party. Many 
eyes began to turn towards Ivan's second son, Dmitri. His 
mother's kindred, the Nagois, from their exile at Ouglitch, 
watched carefully all the variations in the health of the Tzar, 
and the movements of Boris. The death of Feodor would give 
the throne to Dmitri, and power to his relatives — power to avenge 
themselves for all. It would deliver Boris up to the reprisals of 
his enemies. He knew this only too well. In 1591, it was sud- 
denly announced that the young Dmitri had been slain. The 
public voice denounced Boris. To stifle suspicion he ordered 
an inquest, and his emissaries had the audacity to declare that 
the young prince cut his own throat in a fit of madness, and 
that the Nagois and the people of Ouglitch had put to death in- 
nocent men as murderers. The result of the inquiry was the 
extermination of the Nagois and the depopulation of Ouglitch. 
Seven years after, the pious Feodor died, and in the person of 
this vague and virtuous sovereign the race of bloody and vio- 
lent men of prey who had created Russia was extinguished. 
The dynasty of Andrew Bogolioubski had accomplished its mis- 
sion — it had founded the Russian unity. The task of obtaining 
the entrance of this semi-Asiatic State into the bosom of civ- 
ilized Europe was reserved for another dynasty. 



Boris Godounof had reached the aim of his desires — but at 
what a price ! The murder of Dmitri, the last offshoot of St. 
Vladimir, of Monomachus, of George and the Ivans, was no ot- 
dinar}^ crime. Russia had seen many horrors, but never one 
like this. The Tzar might have put the Russian princes to 


death, but they were his enemies, they were often guilty, and 
then he was the Tzar. Now a simple boyard sacrificed to his 
own ambition the son of his benefactor, the heir of his master, 
the last descendant of the founders of Russia. It was one of 
those crimes that ever deeply agitate the people. Boris believed 
vainly he had buried all in the earth with the corpse of the 

After the death of Feodor, his widow Irene entered the 
Dievitchi MoJiastyr, and took the veil there, mourning her ster- 
ility, and lamenting that " by her the sovereign race had per- 
ished." The nobles and the people took the oaths to her, so 
that there should be no interregnum. A woman had the crown 
at her disposal, and that woman was the sister of Godounof. 
As she refused to govern, the doutna had to discharge affairs 
under the presidency of the Patriarch Job, who owed every- 
thing to Godounof. It was impossible that the throne should 
escape Godounof ; yet it seemed strange that a simple boyard, 
a creature of Ivan IV., should take precedence of all the princes 
descended in direct line from Rurik. However, the Patriarch 
and his clergy, the boyards and citizens of Moscow, appeared 
before the Dievitchi MoJiastyr, in which Godounof was shut up 
with his sister. Job entreated him to accept the crown. Go- 
dounof refused, apparently from an excess of modesty — in reality, 
because he wished to receive it from the hands of the nation. 
The States-general were then assembled ; the lesser nobility 
and the clergy, that is, the friends of Boris, formed the majority. 
After the despotism of Ivan, it was a strange sight to see this 
assembly dispose of the crown. The Russia of the Terrible 
had, like Poland, her elective diet, but the lesson of obedience 
had been so well learnt, that there was no fear of anarchy. They 
were told that Ivan IV. on his death-bed had confided to Boris 
his family and his empire, and that Feodor had put around his 
neck a chain of gold. Men made the most of the experience of 
government that he had acquired under two reigns; they 
boasted of his skilful dealings with Sweden, Poland, and the 
Crimea. The national voice decreed to him the crown, and the 
States sent him a deputation. He still feigned to hold back, 
and cast out " the tempters "; but his sister " blessed him for 
the throne," and thus consecrated the wish of the people. 
Boris reigned. 

His reign was not without glory. He took up the designs of 
his master, Ivan IV., on Livonia ; and as the Terrible had his 
puppet king Magnus, Boris sought first a Swedish prince Gustaf, 
and then a Danish prince John, to play the part of King of 
Livonia. John was to marry Xenia, daughter of the new Tzar, 



when he died suddenly, Denmark declared that he was pois- 
oned ; and in the Russia of that date everything is conceivable. 
The Khan of the Crimea, who had vainly tried to make two in- 
cursions, and who had then a quarrel with the Turks, sought 
the friendship of Boris. Affairs in the Caucasus were less 
happy. Alexander, prince of Kachetia, who had acknowledged 
himself vassal of Boris, was assassinated, and succeeded by his 
son, who was on the side of the King of Persia (Shah Abbas), 
and Islamism. In Daghestan a body of Russians sent to occupy 
the country were exterminated by the Turks. Russia had not 
yet approached near enough to the Black Sea to be able to take 
the field with assurance in those distant regions. In Siberia, 
Koutchoum, the dethroned khan, was vanquished ; the battle 
was decisive, though the Russian voi'evodes only had 400 men, 
and Koutchoum 500 ; but none the less did it decide the fate 
of Asia. 

Boris continued to be sought by the Powers of the West, be- 
ginning with Austria. In 1600 he sent Gregory Mikouline to 
Queen Elizabeth. "He had learnt," says the letter of the Tzar, 
" that the Queen had furnished help to the Turks against the 
Kaiser of. Germany. We are astonished at it, as to act thus 
is not proper for Christian sovereigns ; and you, our well-be- 
loved sister, you ought not for the future to enter into relation- 
ships of friendship with Boiisourman (Mussulman) princes, nor 
to help them in any way, whether by men or silver; but on the 
contrary should desire and insist that all the great Christian po- 
tentates should have a good understanding, union, and strong 
friendship, and make one against the Mussulmans, till the hand 
of the Christians rise, and that of the Mussulmans is abased." 

Mikouline was received in London with great honors. In the 
audience given him by the Queen, " she arose from her throne 
and advanced some distance " to listen to his compliments ; 
after which she bowed her head and asked for news of the health 
of the Tzar, the Tzarina, Maria Gregorievna, and of the Tzar 
dvitch Feodor Borissovitch. She received " with great joy " the 
credentials, and, being seated, listened to the message of Mi- 
kouline. She replied to the passage touching on her relations 
with Turkey by protestations of friendship and union with all 
the Christian princes, gave her hand to be kissed by the envoy 
and also by the secretary of the embassy, Ivan Zinovief, and 
sent them to talk over their affairs with Lord Robert Cecil. The 
commercial interests of the two peoples were guaranteed anew. 
During his visit to London, Mikouline was present at the revolt 
of 1601, led by Essex, and saw the citizens rush through the 
streets with armed cuirasses and arquebuses to defend the Queen. 


He gives in his account many curious details of the Court of 
England at this epoch — the most brilliant of the reign of Eliza- 
beth, — quitted London in May 1601, and arrived at Arkhangel 
in July. 

The firm government of Boris gave confidence, and he con- 
tinued to be sought by the Powers of the West, especially by 
Austria and England. Sweden and Poland could do him no 
hurt. He surrounded himself with soldiers, learned men, and 
artists. With their help he raised monuments, built the tower 
of Ivan the Great at the Kremlin, and had the " queen of bells" 
cast. It was he who first sent young Russians to Liibeck, Eng- 
land, France, and Austria, to study European arts. The fashions 
of the West penetrated to Moscow, and some of the nobles 
began to shave their beards. 

This prosperity was all unreal. His services — even his char- 
ities — turned against him. " He presented to the poor," says a 
contemporary, " in a vase of gold, the blood of the innocents. 
He fed them with unholy alms." The oligarchic party, ashamed 
of obeying a simple boyard, began to agitate. After having par- 
doned his ancient rival Belski, Boris was obliged to throw him 
into prison. He acted with severity towards the Romanofs, 
who were exiled, many of them having been previously tortured. 
Feodor, the eldest, was forced to become a monk under the name 
of Philarete, and his wife took the veil under the name of Marfa. 
From the son of this monk and this nun, emperors were to spring. 

Feeling himself surrounded by plots, Boris Godounof did not 
hesitate before any means of security, and received the denun- 
ciations of slaves against their masters. From 1601 to 1604 a 
frightful famine devastated Russia, and was followed by a pest- 
ilence. The famished peasants joined the servants of the dis- 
graced nobles, and formed themselves into bands of brigands 
who infested the southern provinces, and even insulted the 
environs of Moscow. It was necessary to send a regular army 
against them. To these calamities was added the universal pre- 
sentiment of others yet greater. The term of seven years 
assigned by the astrologers to the reign of Boris was approach- 
ing. The crime of Ouglitch, still unexpiated, had left a strange 
uneasiness throughout Russia. Suddenly there arose a rumor 
that the murdered Dmitri was living, and with arms in his hands 
was making ready to reconquer the empire. 

At the Monastery of the Miracle a young monk, Gregory Otrd- 
pief, had brought himself into notice. After having for a long 
while wandered from convent to convent at his own pleasure, he 
finally reached the Monastery of the Miracle ; and the Patriarch 
Job discerning his intelligence, made him his secretary. In dis- 



charge of these functions, he became acquainted with more than 
one State secret. " Do you know," he used to say to the other 
monks, " that I shall be one day Tzar of Moscow ? " They 
spat in his face, and the Tzar Boris Goduonof ordered him to 
be confined in llie Monastery of the White Lake. He succeeded 
in escaping ; again became a wandering monk, and, being well 
received at Novgorod-Severski, had the temerity to write to the 
inhabitants : " I am the Tzarevitch Dmitri, and 1 will not forget 
your kindness." Then he threw his frock to the winds, enrolled 
himself among the Zaporogues, and became a bold rider and a 
brave Cossack. He passed into the service of Adam Vichnev- 
etski, a Polish pan ; he fell ill, or feigned to do so, summoned a 
priest, and revealed to him, under the seal of confession, that he 
was the Tzardvitch Dmitri, who had escaped from the hands ol 
the assassins at Ouglitch, by another child being substituted in 
his place. He showed a cross, set with jewels, that hung round 
his neck, given him by Mstislavski, godfather of the Tzarevitch. 
The Jesuit did not dare to keep such a secret to himself. Otrd- 
pief was recognized by his master, Vichnevetski, as the son of 
the Terrible. Mniszek, palatine of Sandomir, promised him his 
support and the hand of his daughter, Marina, who consented 
with joy to be Tzarina of Moscow. The strange news spread 
throughout the kingdom. The Pope's nuncio took the Tzarevitch 
under his protection, and presented him to King Sigismond. 
Were they really deceived ? It is more probable that they saw 
in him a formidable instrument of agitation, which the king 
flattered himself he would be able to use against Russia, and the 
Jesuits against orthodoxy. Sigismond feared to take on himself 
the rupture of the truce he had concluded with Boris, and expose 
himself to Russian vengeance. He treated Otrepief as Tzare- 
vitch, but only in private ; he refused to put the royal troops at 
his disposal, but he authorized the nobles, who were touched by 
the misfortune of the prince, to help him if they wished. The 
pa?is did not need the royal authority; many of them, with the 
levity and love of adventure which characterized the Polish 
nobility, took up arms in favor of the Tzarevitch. Then Boris 
recognized, says Ldveque, that the weakest enemy can make a 
usurper tremble. 

No revolution, even if it were the wisest and most necessary, 
could be accomplished without patting in motion the dregs of 
society — without the clashing of a mass of interests, and the 
creation of a multitude who are outcasts from all classes. The 
transformation which was then taking place in Russia for the 
formation of the modern united State, had engendered all these 
elements of disorder. The peasant whom the laws of Boris had 


attached to the glebe, was everywhere sullenly hostile. The 
smaller nobility, for whose profit this law had been made, were 
scarcely able to live on their lands ; the service of the Tzar had 
become ruinous, and many were inclined to supplement the in- 
sufficiency of their revenues by brigandage. The boyards and 
the great nobility were profoundly demoralized — they were ready 
for any treason. The warlike republics of the Cossacks of the 
Don and the Dnieper, the bands of serfs, of fugitive peasants, 
who infested the Russian territory, only waited for an opportunity 
to lay waste the country. The ignorance of the masses was pro- 
found, and their minds greedy of wonders and change ; no other 
nation has allowed itself to be deceived so often by the same 
fable, the sudden apparition of a prince whom all believed dead. 
Adventures like those of Otrepief the false Dmitri, and of Pouga- 
tchef the false Peter III., could not be reproduced in any other 
European country. These two adventurers rendered themselves 
particularly famous, but the secret archives show us that in 
the Russia of the 17th and i8th centuries there were hundreds 
of impostors, of false Dmitri's, false Alexis, false Peters II., and 
false Peters III. We might almost think that the Russians, the 
most Asiatic of all European nations, had not renounced the 
Oriental dogma of re-incarnations and avatars. The Govern- 
ment was powerless, in a country so utterly without commu- 
nication, to put a stop to the most absurd rumors. Besides, the 
ignorant and superstitious masses were hostile to it, and delighted 
to allow themselves to be deceived. So many elements of rebel- 
lion only required to be set in motion by the hand of a skilful 
agitator. The entrance of the impostor into Russia was the 
signal of dissolution. 

As long as the power lay in the hands of the clever and 
energetic Godounof, he was able to maintain order, to restrain 
the authors of revolt, and to discourage the false Dmitri. The 
Patriarch Job and Vassili Chouiski, who had conducted the 
inquest at Ouglitch, made proclamations to the people affirm- 
ing that Dmitri was really dead, and that the impostor was 
none other than Otrepief. Similar declarations were sent to 
the King and the Diet of Poland. Finally, troops were put in 
marching order, and a line of communications established with 
the Western frontier. But already the towns of Severia revolted 
at the approach of the Tzardvitch, and the boyards publicly an- 
nounced " that it was hard to bear arms against your lawful 
sovereign." At Moscow the health of the Tzar Dmitri was 
drunk at feasts. In October 1604, the impostor crossed the 
frontier with an army of Poles, of Russians banished in the pre- 
ceding reign, and German mercenaries. Severia at once rose, 



and Novgorod-Severski opened her gates to him. Prince Mstis- 
lavski tried to checlc his progress by a battle, but the soldiers 
were struck by the idea that the man whom they fought was the 
real Dmitri. " They had no hands to fight, but only feet to fly." 
Vassili Chouiiski, Mstislavski's successor, did his best to rally 
their courage, and this time, in spite of his intrepidity, the im- 
postor was defeated at Dobrynitchi. Boris believed the war 
finished ; but in reality it had only begun. After Severia the 
Ukraine rebelled, and 4000 Cossacks of the Don came to rejoin 
" the brigand." The inaction of the Muscovite voievodes proved 
that the spirit of treason had already penetrated the nobility. 

In 1605 Boris died, commending his innocent son to the care 
of Basmanof, the boyards, the Patriarch, and the people of 
Moscow. But hardlv had Basmanof taken the command of the 
army of Severia, than he understood that neither the soldiers 
nor the leaders were going to fight for a Godounof. Rather 
than be the victim of treason, he preferred being the author of 
it. The man in whom the dying Boris had placed all his confi- 
dence united with Galitsyne and Soltykof, secret adherents of 
the impostor. He solemnly announced to the troops that 
Dmitri was in truth the son of Ivan the Terrible and the lawful 
master of Russia, and was the first to throw himself at the feet 
of the Pretender, who was at once proclaimed by the troops. 
Dmitri marched to Moscow ; at his approach his partisans rose, 
and the wife and son of Godounof were massacred. Such was 
the end of the dynasty which Boris had thought to found in the 
blood of a Tzar^vitch 1 

Vol. 1 Russia 11 




Murder of the false Dmitri — Vassili Choui'ski — The brigand of Touchino— 
Vladislas of Poland — The Poles at the Kremlin — National rising — Minine 
and Pojarski — Election of Michael Romanof. 



The event that had taken place in Russia is one of the most 
extraordinary in the annals of the world. A runaway monk 
entered Moscow in tri-umph as her Tzar, among the joyful 
tears of the people, who thought they beheld a descendant of 
their long line of princes. Only one man had the courage to 
affirm that he had seen Dmitri assassinated, and that the new 
Tzar was an impostor. This was Vassili Chouiski, one of those 
who had directed the inquest at Ouglitch, and who had defeated 
the Pretender at the battle of Dobrynitchi, Denounced by Bas- 
manof, he was condemned to death by an assembly of the three 
orders, and his head was actually on the block, when he received 
a pardon from the Tzar. Men did not recognize the son of 
Ivan the Terrible in this act of clemency, and Otrepief had 
afterwards cause to repent of it. Job, the tool of Godounof, 
was replaced in the patriarchate by a favorite of the new prince, 
the Greek Ignatius. The Tzar had an interview with his pre- 
tended mother, Maria Nagoi, widow of Ivan IV. Whether be- 
cause she wished to avenge her injuries, or merely to recover 
her honors, Maria recognized Otrepief as her son, and publicly 
embraced him. He loaded the Nagois, whom he regarded as 
his maternal relations, with favors ; the Romanofs were likewise 
recalled from exile, and Philarete made Metropolitan of Rostof. 
The Tzar presided regularly at the douma, where the boyards 
admired the clearness of his apprehension and the variety of his 
knowledge. As a monk he was a man of letters, and as a pupil of 
the Zaporogues an accomplished horseman, bold and skilful in 
all bodily exercises. He was fond of foreigners, and even spoke 


of sending the Russian nobles to be educated in the West. This 
taste for strangers went hand in hand with a certain contempt 
for the national ignorance and grossness. He offended the 
boyards by his raillery, and alienated the people and the clergy 
by his disdain of Russian customs and religious rites. He ate 
veal, never slept after dinner, did not take baths, borrowed 
money from the convents, turned the monks into ridicule, fought 
with bears, visited jewellers and foreign artisans familiarly, and 
took no heed of the severe Court etiquette. He pointed cannons 
with his own hand ; organized sham fights between the national 
troops and the foreign mercenaries ; was pleased to see the 
Russians beaten by the Germans ; and surrounded himself by a 
European guard, with Margeret, Knutsen, and Van Dennen at 
its head. On his entry into Moscow a struggle took place 
between the clergy and the papal legate, and two bishops were 
exiled. He got no thanks for resisting the legate and Poland — 
for declining to help the one to effect the union of the two 
Churches, and refusing to cede to the other an inch of Russian 
land. The arrival of his wife, the Catholic Marina, with a suite 
of Polish gentlemen, who assumed an insolent demeanor towards 
the Russians, completed the irritation of the Muscovites. Less 
than thirty days after his entrance into the Kremlin, men were 
ripe for a revolution. 

Vassili Chouiski, pardoned by Otrepief, w'as the head of the 
conspirators. The extreme confidence of the Tzar was his ruin. 
One night the boyards attacked the Kremlin, which had been 
left unguarded. Otrepief was thrown out of a window, and 
stabbed in the court of the palace ; Basmanof, who defended him, 
being killed by his side. They took the two corpses, put ribald 
masks on their faces, and exposed them on the place of execu- 
tions between a flute and a bag-pipe. The widow of Otre'pief, 
and the Polish envoys sent to assist at the wedding, were spared, 
but kept prisoners by the boyards. The corpse of the " sorcerer " 
was burned, and a cannon was charged with his ashes, which 
were blown to the winds (1606). 

It was now necessary to elect a new Tzar. Two candidates, 
two chiefs of princely families, presented themselves, Vassili 
Chouiski and Vassili Galitsyne. Chouiski had signalized him 
self by his hatred of the usurper, had defeated him in battle, had 
been condemned by him to death, and had been foremost in the 
conspiracy. The boyards would have preferred assembling the 
States-general, as in 1598, but Vassili would not await their 
decision. More impatient and less wise than Boris Godounof, 
he chose to owe his crown to the Muscovites alone, and not to 
the delegates of the whole nation. It was the original sin of the 

244 ^^^^ '^OR Y OF R USSIA . 

new administration. Vassili had on his side neither hereditary 
right, like the ancient Tzars, nor the vote of the three orders, 
Uke Boris. His claim to the throne thus remained dubious in 
times of the greatest disturbance. The Patriarch Ignatius, the 
nominee of the impostor, was replaced by Hermogenes. Thus, 
at each change in the government, a corresponding change took 
place in the first dignity of the Church. 

On ascending the throne, Vassili swore a solemn oath to put 
no boyard to death without trial, not to confiscate the goods of 
criminals, and to chastise calumniators. True Russians felt pro- 
found sorrow when they saw the Tzar thus despoil himself of his 
sovereign rights, and alienate part of his autocratic power for the 
benefit of the boyards. He was entering, indeed, on the path 
of t.he pacta conventa^ which, at every new election in Poland, de- 
pri\ed the king of some of his attributes, and led to the enfee- 
bling of the crown, and the triumph of the aristocratic anarchy 
of the nobles. 

1 he provinces were discontented at not being consulted in 
the «;hoice of a sovereign. They learnt almost at the same 
moment that Dmitri had regained the throne of his forefathers ; 
then that Dmitri was an impostor, who had usurped the throne 
by the aid of the devil ; finally, that a new Tzar reigned over 
Russia. They did not know what to believe, or in whom to trust ; 
everything seemed doubtful. The Russian conscience was greatly 
troubled, and, in the universal demoralization, adventurers found 
an easy road to success. 

Vassili, who was fifty years old, wanted both energy and 
prestige. He had specially distinguished himself by his talents 
for intrigue, and even his partisans reproached him with avarice. 
The elements of disorder put in motion by the last two revolu- 
tions, were not yet appeased. Neither ambitious boyards, nor 
felonious nobles, nor insurgent peasants, nor brigands, nor the 
Cossacks and Zaporogues, nor the companies, nor the foreign 
mercenaries were satisfied. In such a situation it was inevitable 
that a new impostor should take the place of the former, and 
again furnish the worst passions with an outlet. Instead of one, 
there were two Pretenders : on one side a Cossack of Terek 
gave himself out to be the Tzar^vitch Peter, a pretended son of 
the chaste Feodor ; on the other, it was announced that Dmitri 
had, for the second time, escaped his murderers. The same 
transparent fable was always received with the same credulity, 
real or feigned. At Moscow the people recalled the fact that 
the face of the corpse exposed on the Red Place was covered 
with a mask. Vassili tried in vain to disabuse the people ; he 
was not more successful than Boris. Had not Boris overwhelmed 



the Muscovites and the King of Poland with evidence ? Severia 
and the turbulent cities of the South again rose ; the discon- 
tented masses armed again for a new Oire'pief against a new 
Godounof. In the South, a certain Bolotnikof, by birth a serf, 
called all the brigands, all slaves and peasants to his standard, 
and began a servile war. By his side, Prince Chakovskoi 
Pachkof, one of the dieti-boyarski/, the voievode Soundoulof, and 
the aristocratic Procopius Lapounof, organized the war of the 
nobles. On the banks of the Volga, the Tatars and Finnish 
tribes, under pretext of sustaining the son of Ivan the Terrible, 
proclaimed their national independence. The empire was 
menaced with total dissolution by the reaction of all the forces 
till then repressed by the strong hand of the Tzars. 

The reappearance of the false Dmitri was announced through- 
out Russia. In reality no one had dared to take up this ro/e ; 
but the impostor was so universally necessary that he was every- 
where recognized even before he existed. Bolotnikof and his 
peasants threatened the capital, and agitated the lower classes 
of Moscow. The Tzar Chduiski seemed lost, when he was saved 
by the military talents of his nephew, Skopine Chouiski.- La- 
pounof and two other leaders took fright, and were disgusted 
with their popular allies ; they separated from Bolotnikof, offered 
to submit to the Tzir, and were received at Moscow with caresses. 
Bolotnikof, left alone, fell back on Toula, and was so closely 
pressed that he wrote to Mniszek that all was lost if he could 
not produce the false Dmitri. At last the desired one, expected 
by all the rebels, appeared. His real name is undivulged; hi» 
origin is uncertain; he is only mentioned by the title of the 
" second false Dmitri." All we know of him is that he was a 
clever, intelligent man, tolerably educated, and very brutal. He 
came too late to save Toula. Bolotnikof was drowned, and the 
false Peter hanged. 

Lissovski and Rojinski, two Polish nobles of great repute, 
soon came to the aid of the false Dmitri. The Zaporogues and 
the Cossacks of the Don, under Zaroutski, hastened to take part 
in the expected booty. It is a curious fact that there were in 
their ranks five or six impostors, who all gave themselves out as 
being sons or grandsons of Ivan the Terrible. With all these 
forces the impostor marched on Moscow, defeated the detach- 
ments of the Tzar's army, and established himself twelve versts 
from the capital, at the village of Touchino. This encampment 
has remained celebrated in the history of the -troubles ; it has 
gained for this second impostor the surname of the brigand of 
Touchino, and for his Russian partisans the designation of 
Touchinists. Thus in face of the Tzar of Moscow — the nominee 


of the Muscovites, who hardly seemed the Tzar of Russia — 
stood the Tzar of Touchino. He, like his rival, had his Court, 
his army, his administration. He distributed titles and digni- 
ties ; and — evidence of profound popular degradation — an am- 
bitious crowd was to- be seen passing from one court to the 
other, falling at the feet of both Tzars, receiving double pay, 
and, loaded with honors by Vassili, flying to Dmitri, to return 
ao-ain to Vassili. A sobriquet was invented to designate these 
refugees. They were called " birds of passage " {pireleti). 

Whilst Touchino menaced and braved Moscow, Polish rein- 
forcements flocked to the camp of the brigand, in spite of the 
promises and assurances of the perfidious Sigismond. The 
celebrated voievode, John Sapieha, came to join Lissovski, and 
they both tried to capture the Troitsa monastery. This famous 
convent tempted them by its riches. With its ramparts and 
towers, it was a strong place of arms for the partisans of the 
Tzar ; its monks were convinced that they knew how the country 
was to be saved, and did not cease to call all the neighboring 
cities to take up arms " for faith and the Tzar." These warlike 
monks, who were like the " Church militant " of the French 
League — though they, to be sure, defended at once the national 
and the orthodox cause — repelled all the assaults of the Catholic 
adventurers. After a siege of sixteen months, Sapieha had to 
acknowledge himself beaten. Abraham Palitsyne, treasurer of 
the convent, has narrated the exploits of his brethren. Souzdal, 
Vladimir, Pere'iaslaf, Rostof, and eighteen other northern towns, 
not being able to decide which was the legitimate sovereign, 
opened their gates to the Touchinists. Chouiski was still dis- 
liked at Moscow, but they knew what they had to expect from 
the second false Dmitri. Plonest people who did not look for- 
ward to the triumph of the brigand, and who saw no possible 
Tzar but Vassili, forced themselves to support him. What 
saved the capital was the bad discipline that reigned in the 
enemy's camp ; new rebellions broke out against the rebel. 
Serfs and mougiks threatened their masters and ravaged the 
country, and the brigand was forced to employ part of his forces 
to suppress this brigandage. 

About this time the Tzar Chouiski turned tor help to 
Sweden ; he ceded the town of Karela to Charles IX., contracted 
with him an offensive and defensive alliance against Poland, 
and received in return a body of 5000 Swedes, under the com- 
mand of De la* Gardie. With this reinforcement, Skopine 
Chouiski expelled the Touchinists from the cities of the North, 
advanced on Moscow, and obliged the brigand to evacuate 
Touchino. The perfidious policy of the Polish government, 


which armed the impostors against the Tzar and allowed their 
voievodes to attack a friendly country, amply justified Chouiski 
in seeking an ally in Sweden. But this foreign intervention 
gave rise to another : the King of Poland, affecting to think 
himself endangered by the Tzar's alliance with his worst enemy, 
decided to drop the mask and openly interfere. It was thus 
that under the most fatal auspices the long rivalry began be- 
tween these two Slav nations, whom statesmanship had once 
tried to unite under the same sceptre. Poland, governed by an 
instrument of the Jesuits, inflicted on Russia a frightful wrong. 
Sigismond disloyally affected zeal for a pretender whom he 
knew to be an impostor ; he violated treaties and all the rights 
of nations ; allowing Russia to be attacked by his armies, all the 
while that he was asserting his peaceful disposition. His inva- 
sion of Russia filled up the measure of his iniquities. This 
conduct necessarily left ineffaceable memories in the hearts of 
the Russians. 

By taking up arms, Sigismond intended to assure to his son 
the throne of Russia, and restore to Poland the places she had 
lost in the 15th century. He besieged Smolensk, and wrote to 
announce to the inhabitants that he did not come to shed the 
blood of the Russians, but, on the contrary, to protect them ; 
and that he was prepared to guarantee to them the maintenance 
of their worship and libenies. The people of Smolensk, who 
knew the ardor with which Sigismond persecuted orthodoxy in 
his own dominions, repelled all his advances, and the voievode 
Chein made ready to defend the town to the last. Sigismond 
wrote from his camp at Smolensk to the Polish voievodes who 
were serving under the impostor, with orders to abandon him. 
The Polish Touchinists obeyed with regret, complaining that the 
king would appropriate the reward of their toils ; the Russian 
Touchinists, not knowing what to do, followed their allies, and, 
already accustomed to every sort of treason, made their submis- 
sion to the king, and offered to recognize his son Vladislas as 
Tzar of Russia. At the head of these refugees were the boyard 
Michael Soltykof and the currier Andronof. 

Chouiski had now two enemies equally formidable — the King 
of Poland and the false Dmitri, who, himself threatened by the 
ambition of his royal rival, had to retreat to the South. Vassili's 
nephew, Skopine, who had saved him by his victories, and won 
him popularity by his frank manners, died in the midst of his 
successes. The people then revived their old dislike of the 
Tzar, and accused him of poisoning his nephew. Another of 
the Chouiskis, the ambitious Dmitri, was also involved in the 
accusation. Dmitri Chouiski, as unpopular with the army as he 


was with the capital, was betrayed in battle by the foreign regi- 
ments, and this defeat completed the ruin of Vassili. The peo- 
ple rose in Moscow ; a great assembly of the populace and the was held in the plains of Serpoukhof. The Tzar was 
" humbly requested " to vacate the throne, because he caused 
Christian blood to be shed, and was not successful in his gov- 
ernment. The southern frontier towns also refused to obey him. 
Vassili Chouiski yielded, and abdicated ; a short time afterwards 
he was forced to become a monk. 


Everyone was obliged to take an oath of obedience to the 
dounia of boyards, who naturally seized the executive power 
during the interval before the election of a new Tzar. There 
were two candidates for the vacant throne — Vladislas, son of 
the King of Poland, and the false Dmitri. Now the latter was 
evidently an impostor. He ruled the upper and middle classes 
by terror alone, and had only the populace on his side. As they 
could not at once get rid of both the Poles and the brigand of 
Touchino, they chose the lesser of the two evils, 

A Polish army, under the hetman Zolkiewski, had arrived at 
Mojaiisk : the impostor occupied Kolomenskoe. The boyards 
invited Zolkiewski to approach Moscow, and they began to nego- 
tiate. The hetman promised in the name of the young prince to 
maintain orthodoxy, the liberties and privileges of the orders, the 
partition of legislative power between the king and the douma. No 
one was to be executed without a trial, nor deprived of his 
dignities without a reason ; all Muscovites might go, if they 
wished, to be educated abroad. The Russians began to like the 
Polish system of the pacta conventa. The inhabitants of Moscow 
vowed fealty to the Tzar Vladislas. One point still remained to 
be decided — the Russians desired that Vladislas should embrace 
orthodox)'. Zolkiewski reserved the decision to the King of 
Poland. He induced the boyards to send ambassadors to Sigis- 
mond, and Prince Vassili Galitsyne and the Metropolitan Phila- 
rete Romanof left immediately for the camp at Smolensk. This 
terrible crisis seemed at the point of disentangling itself in a way 
that was tolerably advantageous for Russia, She was to have a 
foreign sovereign, but one already acquainted with Slav man- 
ners, and his being a foreigner was even a gage for the parti- 
sans of reforms and Western civilization. Poland and Russia, 
which might have united under Ivan and under Feodor, had 
aaother chance of doing so under a Polish prince. Such was 



the confidence of the boyards, that, finding the security of Mos- 
cow troubled by the neighborhood of the impostor, they pro- 
posed to Zolkiewski to enter into the town and even the KremUn. 
This unpatriotic resolution, dictated to the nobles by their 
mistrust of the lower classes, was to bring fatal consequences on 
Moscow. Zolkiewski wished to take his guarantees against the 
chiefs of the nation : Galitsyne and Philarete were already under 
Smolensk at the discretion of the king ; he sent for the fallen 
Tzar also and his two brothers as hostages. 

Sigismond meditated a new treachery against Russia. His 
object was to conquer Muscovy, not for his son, but for himself. 
He stipulated with the ambassadors that Smolensk should be 
ceded to Poland, but they courageously repelled this proposi- 
tion. They demanded on their own part that Vladislas should 
leave immediately for Moscow, as being the only means for allay- 
ing the suspicions to which the conduct of the king had given 
rise. Sigismond refused. He wished to be Tzar himself. In 
despair of conquering the scruples of the two chief ambas- 
sadors, he addressed himself to their inferior colleagues. The 
Secretary Tomila, on being asked to open the gates of Smolensk, 
replied : " If I were to do it, not only would God and the Mus- 
covites curse me, but the earth would open and swallow me. We 
are sent to negotiate in the interests of our country, not of our- 
selves." All the Russians did not show this probity. The dis- 
gusting spectacle of the camp of Touchino was repeated at 
Smolensk. Men crowded round the king, as formerly around 
the brigand, to wring from him dignities, land, and money. 
Soltykof, Mstislavski, and the currier Andronof especially dis- 
tinguished themselves by their baseness. At Moscow the boy- 
ards denounced each other to the commandant of the Polish 
garrison. By the suggestion of Soltykof they wrote to the king 
to beg him to make his entry into Moscow. The Patriarch Her- 
mogenes refused to sign the letter, and the people, more patri- 
otic than the boyards, supported the Patriarch. Some few 
nobles, like Andrew Galitsyne and Ivan Vorotinski had the honor 
of being suspected by the Poles, and were arrested by Leo 
Sapieha, successor of Zolkiewski. By permitting the Poles to 
enter the towns, the oligarchs had put Russia in the power of 
the King of Poland. 

About this time the second impostor died, assassinated by 
one of his private enemies. His death had grave consequences. 
It healed misunderstandings, as, since the false Dmitri was dead, 
Sigismond had no longer any pretext for keeping his troops in 
Russia. The nobles had now no motive for distrusting the 
people, and could unite with them against the strangers. Whis. 



pers were heard in the streets of Moscow that it was necessary 
to combine against the Lithuanians. Soltykof and Andronof de- 
nounced these generous intentions to the enemy. The Patriarch 
Hermogenes, suspected of patriotism, was thrown into prison, 
where he afterwards died of hunger. The provinces were agii 
tated, and the inhabitants of Smolensk and Moscow wrote to all 
the towns entreating them not to accept the perfidious enemy of 
orthodoxy as their prince. The citizens did their part, the 
dieti-hoyarski<f made their preparations for war, and Lapounof 
collected an army at Riazan. At his approach Moscow began to 
fill with reinforcements, and the Poles fortified the rampart of 
the Kremlin. Suddenly a quarrel broke out between the people 
and the soldiers. In the first heat the Poles and Germans are 
said to have massacred 7000 men ; but resistance was organized 
in the streets of the Bidlyi-gorod, and the foreigners, repulsed by 
Prince Pojarski, had to intrench themselves in the Kremlin and 
the Kitai-gorod. To clear the neighborhood, the Poles set fire 
to the neighboring streets. Moscow was almost entirely in 

On hearing of the preparations of Lapounof and the revolt 
of Moscow, Sigismond caused the Muscovite ambassadors, 
Galitsyne and Philarete, to be arrested, and sent them prisoners 
to Marienburg, in Prussia. A short time afterwards Smolensk 
fell, after a resistance compared by the Poles themselves to that 
of Saguntum, though the king was not ashamed to torture the 
brave voievode Chein, who had dared to resist him. He entered 
Warsaw in triumph, and the unhappy Vassili Chouiski, a Tzar 
of Russia, was dragged a prisoner through the streets in triumph. 
Lapounof was now reinforced by Prince Troubetskoi and Ivan 
Zaroutski, at the head of the Cossacks of the Don. A hundred 
thousand men besieged the Poles, who were shut up in the 
Kremlin, but the elements composing this large army were too 
conflicting and corrupt for the enterprise to succeed. The three 
leaders were mutually jealous of each other. Lapounof had 
committed more than one treason, Zaroutski had been one of 
the first to declare for Otrepief, and the others were hardly more 
loyal. The soldiers of Lapounof hated the Cossacks, who on 
their part only sought occasions for pillage. The Poles man- 
aged to raise the men of the Don, by inventing a pretended letter 
of Lapounof, saying, " Wherever you take them, slay them or 
drown them." A revolt broke out in the camp : Lapounof was 
assassinated, many of his adherents were murdered, and this 
great army was miserably dispersed. 

Russia, a prey to civil war, as was France of the i6rh cen- 
tury to the wars of religion, suffered, like her, from foreign in* 



tervention. In France, English and Spaniards watched the tides 
of party success, and profited by them all to gain some place or 
some province. Russia became the theatre of war for two rival 
Powers, Catholic Poland and Lutheran Sweden. When Vladis- 
las was proclaimed Tzar, Sweden considered herself offended, 
and acted as an enemy. De la Gardie took the ports of the 
Baltic ; and the boyards of Novgorod the Great, imitating those 
of Moscow, opened the gates to the foreigners. It was under 
the protection of Poland that the first two impostors had arisen 
in the west and south ; under the protection of Sweden a third 
false Dmitri started up in the country of Pskof. Marina 
Mniszek on her side, who after the death of Otrdpief had thrown 
herself into the arms of the brigand Touchino, acknowledged 
the Cossack Zaroutski as guardian of her son. 



The situation of Russia, like that of France during the Eng- 
lish wars, or the wars of the League, was frightful. The Tzar 
was prisoner, the Patriarch captive, the Swedes at Novgorod the 
Great, the Poles at the Kremlin, and the higher nobility bought 
by the strangers. Everywhere bands of brigands and highway- 
men pillaged towns, tortured peasants, and desecrated churches. 
Famine increased : in certain districts men were driven to eat 
human flesh. This country, accustomed to be governed auto- 
cratically, had no longer any government. In her supreme need, 
who was to save Russia .-' It was the people, by a movement 
similar to that which in France produced Joan of Arc; it was 
the people, in the largest acceptation of the word, including the 
honest nobility and the patriotic clergy. Already miraculous 
rumors showed the excitement that possessed all minds. At 
Nijni-Novgorod, at Vladimir, apparitions were seen. The monks 
of Troitsa, with the hegumene Dionysius and treasurer-historian 
Palitsyne at their head, sent letters to all the Russian cities. 
The citizens of Kazan raised the distant Russia of the Kama. 
When the despatches from Troitsa reached Nijni, and the pro- 
topope read them to the assembled people, a citizen of the town, 
the butcher Kouzma Minine, rose. " If we wish," he said " to 
save the Muscovite Empire, we must spare neither our lands nor 
our goods ; let us sell our houses, and put our wives and children 
to service ; let us seek a man who will fight for the orthodox 
faith, and march under his banner." To give up all, and to arm 
themselves, such was the word that was handed round. Minine 


and others gave the third of their possessions ; one woman who 
had 12,000 roubles gave 10,000 of them. Those who hesitated 
to contribute had to do it by force, Minine only accepted the 
office of treasurer of the insurrection on condition that his fel- 
low-citizens should place themselves absolutely at his discretion. 
A chief was necessary ; the people saw that he must be a noble. 
Now at Slarodoub lived Prince Dmitri Pojarski, still weak from 
wounds he had received in the revolt of Moscow. Minine went 
to seek him, and besought him to take the command of the 
army. Their preparations then began, and they fasted and 
prayed. ' Russia felt herself in a state of sin ; she had taken and 
violated so many oaths— to Godounof, to his son Feodor, to 
Otre'pief, to Chouiski, to Vladislas. Three days of fast were 
commanded. Everyone took part in it, even the infants at the 
breast. With the money collected they organized the streltsi^ 
and equipped the die'ti-boyarski^ ; but they refused to admit those 
impure elements which had imperilled the national cause. They 
would have none of the help of Margeret, the mercenary who 
had perjured himself so many times, nor of the pillaging and 
murdering Cossacks. They remembered the assassination of 


With the army marched the bishops and monks ; the holy 
images were borne at the head of the columns. This enthusiasm 
did not exclude political wisdom ; they wished at least to secure 
the support of Sweden against Poland, so they amused de la Gar- 
die by negotiating for the election of a Swedish prince. When 
the troops had completely assembled at laroslavl, they marched 
on Moscow. The Cossacks of Zaroutski and Troubetskoi were 
still encamped under its walls ; but these two armies, though 
fighting for the same object, could not act together. An attempt 
to murder Pojarski had increased the mistrust of the men of the 
Don. When, however, the hetman Chodkiewitz tried to throw a 
detachment into Moscow, he was defeated on the left bank of 
the Moskowa by Pojarski, on the right bank by the Cossacks. 
It is true that the latter, at the decisive moment, refused to 
fight ; it needed the prayers of Abraham Palitsyne to bring them 
into line, and the intervention of Minine and his troops to de- 
cide the victory. The Polish garrison of the Kremlin were then 
pressed so close that they were reduced to eat human flesh. 
They capitulated, on condition that they were to have their lives. 
They gave up their prisoners, among whom was young Michael 


The Kremlin and the Kitai-gorod had opened their gates, 
when men learned that Sigismond was advancing to the help of 
the Polish garrison. It was too late. At the news of these 



events he had to retrace his steps ; the devotion of the people 
of Russia had freed their country. This year of 16 12 remained 
for long in the memory oi the nation ; and when the invasion of 
1812 came to refresh their recollections, they raised on the Red 
Place a colossal monument to the two liberators, the butcher 
Minine and the Prince Pojarski. 

Russia, once more herself, could proceed freely to the election 
of a Tzar. A great National Assembly gathered at Moscow. 
It was composed of the great ecclesiastical dignitaries, of dele- 
gates nominated by the nobles, by the die'ti-boyarskie, the mer- 
chants, the towns and districts. The delegates had to be fur- 
nished with special powers. They all agreed they would have 
no stranger, neither Pole nor Swede. When it became a ques- 
tion of choosing among the Russians, scheming and rivalry 
commenced ; but one name was pronounced which gained all 
the votes, that of Michael Romanof. He was elected not for 
his own sake, for he was only fifteen years old, but for that of 
his ancestors the Romanofs, and his father, the Metropolitan 
Philarete, then prisoner at Marienburg. The name of Romanof, 
of the kin of Ivan IV., was the highest expression of the national 
feeling (1613), 

The new dynasty had better chances of stability than that of 
Godounof or that of Chouiski. There were no crimes to reproach 
it with ; it had its origin in a national movement, it dated from 
the liberation, and had only glorious memories. No phantom, no 
recollection, no regret of the past, stood before it. The house 
of Ivan the Terrible had been the cause or the occasion of too 
much suffering to Russia ; the false Dmitris had stifled the re- 
grets for the true. The accession of the Romanofs coincided 
with a powerful awakening of patriotism, with the passion for 
unity, with universal longing for order and peace. Already 
they inspired the same devotion as the oldest dynasty. It is 
said that the Poles, on hearing of the election of Michael, sent 
armed men to seize him in Kostroma. A peasant, Ivan Sous- 
sanine, misled the Poles through deep woods in the darkness 
of the night, and died under their blows. This is the subject 
of the beautiful opera by Glinka, of * Life for the Tzar.' The 
time of troubles had ended. 

154 ^^^^ ^^^ y O^ RUSSIA. 



PHILARETE (1613-1645). 

Restorative measures — End of the Polish war — Relations with Europe — Th« 



Russia had at last a sovereign, but she was in the situation 
in which Henry IV. found France at his accession. The great 
civil and foreign war was finished, but it had left everywhere its 
evil traces. Henry IV., when he became king, had been obliged 
to reconquer all his kingdom, province by province, town by 
town, half by arms and half by negotiations, to win it from 
chiefs of the bands, leaguers, great governors who had become 
independent, and foreigners. In the same way, in Russia, Zar- 
outski, leader of the Don Cossacks, ruled in Astrakhan, with 
Marina and the son she had borne to the brigand of Touchino ; 
the Polish partisan Lissovski ravaged the country of the south- 
west ; the Zaporogian Cossacks infested the regions of the Dwina: 
scarce a province but was a prey to some robber-band. No doubt 
the Poles had been expelled from the Kremlin as the Spaniards 
were expelled from reconquered Paris, but an offensive move- 
ment of the enemy might be expected ; moreover they still 
retained many places, notably the important town of Smolensk. 
Sweden had profited by the state of Russia to lay hands on the 
cities of Carelia and on Novgorod the Great. In the interior of 
the country, the towns and cities were in ruins, the population 
diminished and impoverished, and brigandage had become a 
habit. At the Court, the Russian lords had learned to disobey, 
and were not less turbulent than the Leaguers who surrounded 
Henry IV. What Russia needed was a reign of restoration. 

Michael Romanof had not the genius of the restorer of 
France. He was almost a child, and the boyards turned his au- 
thority against himself : the silent and bloody intrigues that Ivan 
IV. had only restrained by capital punishment broke forth again, 



and the ferocious depravity of the nobles was the shame of Russia. 
Quiet men and foreigners regretted Ivan the Terrible. "Oh 
that God would open the eyes of the Tzar as he opened those 
of Ivan ! " wrote a Dutchman at this time, " otherwise Muscovy 
is lost." Happily the good will of the nation was equal to every 
emergency. The day of the coronation the men-at-arms pre- 
sented a request for pay, as their devastated fiefs no longer gave 
them any revenue. The Tzar and the clergy sent letters to the 
Russian towns to entreat them to help the State to pay the troops, 
and to aid her with men and money against the foes within and 
without. Zaroutski was the first who was attacked. The inhab- 
itants of Astrakhan, outraged by his barbarities, had rebelled 
and imprisoned him in the Kremlin, whence he attempted to 
escape at the approach of the Russian voievodes. He was capt- 
ured, and condemned to be impaled ; the son of the brigand of 
Touchino, in spite of his youth, was hung, and his mother, Marina 
the Pole, died in prison. By the advice of the clergy and the 
boyards, the Tzar tried to negotiate with Baloven, another brig- 
and chief, who, by way of answer, attacked Moscow, but was 
defeated and his band destroyed. The people of the Dwina 
themselves executed justice on the Zaporogues. Lissovski was 
eagerly pursued by Pojarski, but this clever partisan outwitted 
all the efforts of the liberator. Peace with Poland had to be 
concluded before he could be quieted. 

In 1615 a Congress assembled beneath the walls of Smolensk 
under the mediation of Erasmus Handelius, envoy of the 
Emperor of Germany. It was impossible to come to an under- 
standing : the Poles refused to admit the election of Michael 
Romanof, and wished to recognize Vladislas as Tzar of Russia. 
*' You might as well," said Handelius, "try to reconcile fire and 
water." The negotiations were broken off. With Sweden, how- 
ever, they were more successful ; here the mediators, England 
and Holland, showed more zeal and energy than the house of 
Austria had done. The troubles and the impoverished state of 
Muscovy reacted on their commerce. By pacifying the North, 
they hoped to re-open Russia to their merchants, and secure for 
themselves greater advantages. 

In May 1614, Ouchakof and Zaborovski had been sent to ask 
help from Holland in men and money. The Dutch gave them 
a thousand gulden, but said that they had themselves only 
lately ended a great war, that they could give the Tzar no 
substantial aid, but would do their utmost to induce the King of 
Sweden to make peace. Alexis Ziousine had been despatched 
to London in June 16 13 ; he was ordered to narrate all the ex- 
cesses committed by the Poles in Moscow, and to say to King 


James, " After the destruction of Moscow, the Lithuanians seized 
your merchants — Mark the Englishman, and all the others — ^ 
took away all their wares, subjected them to a rigorous imprison- 
ment, and ended by massacring them." If by chance he dis- 
covered that the English were aware that it was not the Poles, 
but the Cossacks and the lower classes who had put Mark to 
death and seized on the merchandise, he was to have other ex- 
cuses ready. The Tzar entreated help in money to pay the men- 
at-arms, and not in soldiers, as he could give them no pay. 
They would think themselves happy if the King of England 
would send the Tzar money, provisions, powder, lead, sulphur, 
and other munitions, to the value of about 100,000 roubles ; but 
would content themselves with 70,000 roubles' worth, or in case 
of absolute necessity with 50,000. James received the envoy 
and his suite courteously, informed them that he was aware of 
the wrongs the Poles and the Swedes had inflicted on them, and 
ordered them three times following to cover themselves. The 
Russians declined to do this. " When we see thy fraternal love 
and lively friendship for our sovereign, when we hear thy royal 
words which glorify our prince, and contemplate thine e3^es thus 
close at hand, how can we, kholopys as we are, put our hats on 
our heads at such a moment ? " In August 1614, the year follow- 
ing this embassy, there appeared at Moscow John Merrick, who 
had for long traded with the holy city, but who came this time 
as ambassador from James I., qualified with full powers, as 
prince, knight, and gentleman of the bedchamber. In an inter- 
view with Prince Ivan Kourakine he began by demanding, on 
the part of the English merchants, a direct communication with 
India by the Obi, and with Persia by the Volga and Astrakhan. 
Kourakine alleged that this route was unsafe, that Astrakhan 
had only lately been delivered from Zaroutski, and that numerous 
brigands still infested the Volga. When security should be 
established, they would open the question with King James. 
They then passed to the subject of mediation. John Merrick 
declared that the King of England had assembled his Parliament 
to consider the best means of helping the Tzar, but that the 
Parliament had as yet decided nothing, and that he had no in- 
structions on this head. " But," said Kourakine, " can you not 
assure us that your sovereign will send us help in the spring ? " 
*' How can I guarantee it ? The journey is long, and there is no 

way save that by Sweden I believe, however, he will give 

you aid." Merrick, having contented himself with causing the 
Russians to hope, returned to commercial matters : liberty of 
trade by the Obi and the Volga, concessions of iron and jet 
mines on the Soukhona, concessions of territory about Vologda, 



for new establishments, &c. The Russian boyards continued to 
expatiate on the ditficulty of the situation, and John Merrick went 
to Novgorod to negotiate with the Swedes, where he was joined 
by the envoys of Holland. Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, 
had obtained some successes over the voievodes, but he had not 
contented the Novgorodians, nor been able to take Pskof. The 
kings of Denmark and Poland were his enemies, and he may 
have felt a presentiment of the splendid career that awaited hirp 
in Germany. He consented to open a congress, and in 1617 
concluded with Russia the Peace of Stolbovo, by which he re- 
ceived an indemnity of 20,000 roubles, and kept Ivangorod, Iain 
Koporid, and Orechek (Schliisselburg), but ceded Novgorod, 
Roussa, Ladoga, and some smaller places. 

Russia was now able to concentrate all her forces against hei 
worst enemy — the instigator of all her troubles. The Poles took 
the offensive, under the command of Vladislas and the hetman 
Khodke'vitch. Dorogobouge and Viasma were surrendered by 
the treachery or weakness of their voievodes ; but Mojaisk and 
Kalouga (which was defended by Pojarski) resisted and arrested 
the progress of the enemy. Vladislas, who had all the instincts 
of a soldier, resolved in 1618 to march on Moscow. Michael 
Romanof dreaded treason more than the arms of the enemy, 
and determined to exact a new oath of allegiance from his sub- 
jects. He assembled the Estates, and informed them that he 
was ready once more to suffer hunger in besieged Moscow, and 
to fight Lithuania, but he asked in return that the nobles should 
do as much for him, and that they should resist the seductions 
of "the king's son." Everyone made the required promise, and 
fresh letters went out from Moscow, calling all the towns to a 
holy war. Vladislas, however, had stopped at Touchino, where 
the hetman of Little Russia, after having ravaged the frontiers of 
the south-west, had joined him with his Cossacks. The days of 
the second impostor and of Touchinism seemed to have come 
back. The Poles having been defeated in an attack on Moscow 
proposed a congress, which met at Devulino, not far from the 
Troitsa monastery, lately the victim of a new siege. A truce of 
fourteen years and six months was agreed on. Poland kept 
Smolensk and Severia, and Vladislas did not even renounce the 
title of Tzar of Russia, leaving this difficulty to be solved by the 
judgment of God Such a peace was only an armistice (1618) ; 
there was, however, an exchange of prisoners : the brave voiC' 
vode Chein and the Metropolitan Philarete returned to Russia, 
and the latter was at once made Patriarch. 

By the return of his father the young Tzar obtained the 
counsellor his inexperience had hitherto needed, and even more 


than a counsellor — a colleague, and almost a master. Philareta 
was in some sort associated with the throne. The empire had 
two chief nobles, two sovereigns, the Tzar of all the Russias 
and the Patriarch of all the Russias. They figured together 
in all public acts, and together received the reports of the boy- 
ards and foreign ambassadors. It was time that a master was 
given to the boyards. The Soltykofs, Michael's favorites, had 
distributed the empire among their partisans, and plundered 
the treasury and the nation. They were charged with having 
falsely accused Michael's first bride, who was expelled from the 
palace, and having poisoned the second. This was a common 
practice with the nobles of Muscovy, those who were in favor 
fearing a new Tzarina above everything. They shrank from no 
means of removing her from their path ; and their reputation on 
this head was so firmly established that the King of Denmark 
had refused Michael the hand of his niece, because, " in the 
reign of Boris Godounof, his brother,y?^;/<r/of the Princess Xenia, 
had been poisoned ; and this would also be the fate of this 
young girl." Philarete made the boyards feel the weight of the 
Tzar's hand, and exiled the most guilty. 


Russia had begun at last to be a European nation. Every- 
where her political or commercial alliance was sought. Gustavus 
Adolphus, who was making preparations to play his part as the 
champion of Protestantism in Germany, wished to assure him- 
self of the friendship of Russia against Poland. He represented 
to Michael, with much truth, that the Catholic League of the 
Pope, the King of Poland, and the house of Hapsburg were as 
dangerous to Russia as to Sweden ; that if Protestantism suc- 
cumbed it would be the turn of orthodoxy, and that the Swedish 
army was the outpost of Russian security. " When your neigh- 
bor's house is on fire," writes the King, "you must bring water 
and try to extinguish it, to guarantee your own safety. May 
your Tzarian majesty help your neighbors to protect yourself." 
The terrible events of late years had only too well justified 
these remarks. The intrigues of the Jesuits with the false 
Dmitri, and the burning of Moscow by the Poles, were always 
present to the memory of the Russians. A treaty of peace and 
commerce was concluded with Sweden, and a Swedish ambas- 
sador appeared at the Court. 

England had rendered more than one service to Russia. In 
her pressing need James I. had lent her 20,000 roubles, and 



British mediation had led to the Peace of Stolbovo. John Mer- 
rick considered he had the right to demand that Russia should 
open to English commerce the route to Persia by the Volga, 
and to Hindostan by Siberia, The Tzar consulted the merch- 
ants of Moscow. They unanimously replied that such a con- 
cession would be their ruin, for they could never hope to rival 
the wealthier and more enterprising English. They were, how- 
ever, ready to sacrifice their interests to those of the empire, if 
the dues paid by the foreigners were essential to the treasury. 
John Merrick declined to pay any dues, and the negotiation was 
broken off. They paid him, however, the 20,000 roubles, as he 
assured them the King had need of them for the help of his son- 
in-law, the Elector Palatine. 

In 1615 the Tzar sent an envoy into France, to announce to 
Louis XIII. his accession to the throne, and to ask his aid 
against Poland and Sweden. In 1629 there appeared at Mos- 
cow the ambassador Duguay Cormenin, who was commissioned 
to solicit for French commerce what had been refused to Eng- 
lish trade — free passage into Persia. He also spoke of a politi- 
cal alliance. " His Tzarian majesty," he said, " is the head of 
Eastern countries and the orthodox faith ; Louis, King of France, 
is the head of Southern countries ; and the Tzar, by contracting 
a friendship and alliance with him, will get the better of his 
enemies. As the Emperor is closely allied to the King of Po- 
land, the Tzar must be allied to the King of France. These two 
princes are everywhere glorious ; they have no equals either in 
strength or power; their subjects obey them blindly, while the 
English and Braban^ons are only obedient when they choose. 
The latter buy their wares in Spain, and sell them to the Rus- 
sians at a high price, but the French will furnish them with 
everything at a reasonable rate." This negotiation for the first 
Franco-Russian treaty spoken of in history had no result. As 
to the route to Persia, it was refused by the boyards, who said 
that the French might buy the Persian merchandise from the 

Another ally against Poland offered itself to Muscovy. The 
Sultan Osman sent to Moscow the Prince Thomas Cantacuzene, 
to announce that Turkey had already declared war against the 
king. The Russians asked no more than to help him, and Phil- 
arete and Michael assembled the States-general. The deputies 
*' beat their foreheads " to the sovereigns, beseeching them to 
*' hold themselves firm for the holy churches of God, for their 
Tzarian honor, and for their own country against the enemy. 
The men-at-arms were ready to fight, and the merchants to give 
money." The troops were already assembling when news was 


received that Turkey had been defeated, and war was post- 
poned. The preparations had revealed certain faults existing 
in the national army, and it was decided to enlist foreign mer- 
cenaries, and instruct the native soldiers in Western tactics. 
Orders were accordingly given to buy arms, and to attract into 
Russia gun-founders and artillerymen. The Russia of Michael 
and Philarete already announced the Russia of Peter the Great ; 
the era of reform had begun. Each day Muscovy strengthened 
herself against her European enemies, by turning against them 
the weapon of their own civilization. 

She remained quiet for eight years. In 1632 Sigismond III. 
died, and the Elective Diet assembled at Warsaw. Michael 
was determined not to let this opportunity slip, and the second 
war with Poland began. It did not turn out as well as had been 
hoped. The vices of the old organization and institutions 
showed themselves anew. The two voievodes commanding the 
army suddenly became possessed with the old mania of disput- 
ing precedence. They were deprived of their command, and 
replaced by Chein and Ismailof, who crossed the frontier with 
32,000 men and 158 guns. Twenty-three towns surrendered to 
the Muscovites, but Smolensk held out for eight months, and, 
just as it showed signs of capitulating, the Polish army under 
Vladislas, now King of Poland, made its appearance. On the 
rumor of a Tatar invasion in the south, part of the Russian 
nobles at once hastened to the defence of their own lands, and 
Chein, thus enfeebled, was attacked by the king, and his com- 
munications cut. Famine obliged him to surrender in the open 
field, and he obtained leave to retreat, though forced to abandon 
both his baggage and his artillery. His only fault lay in not 
understanding as well as his Western adversaries the strategy 
of modern warfare. He was only guilty of being a Russian of 
unreformed Russia. His enemies, however, accused him of trea- 
son in a council of war, and he was condemned with his col- 
league to be beheaded. Philarete was no longer there to force 
the boyards to live at peace with each other. He died in 1633. 
Vladislas, successful at Smolensk, was defeated at Bielaia, and 
a congress was held on the Polianka. The conditions of the 
truce of Devulino were confirmed. The Russians paid 20,000 
roubles, and Vladislas renounced all claim to the throne of Mos- 
cow, and recognized for the first time the Tzarian title. 

Shortly after there arose a new occasion for war. In spite 
of the treaties of peace concluded by Poland and Russia with 
Turkey, the Cossacks of the Dnieper, who were subjects of Po- 
land, and the Cossacks of the Don, who were subjects of Russia, 
Still continued to fight against Islam. To them, besides being 


a holy war, it was the means of procuring zipouns, — wide trou- 
sers, of a beautiful scarlet cloth. Determined partisans and 
pirates, both on land and sea, they were thorns in the sides of 
the Khan of the Crimea and the Grand Turk, attacking with 
their light boats the heavy Ottoman galteys, and insuliing the 
coasts of the Bosphorus and Anatolia. They were disavowed by 
their respective governments, and were the subjects of perpetual 
recrimination between the Porte and the two Slav States. They 
were the brigands and corsairs of Christianity, as the Tatars 
were of Islamism. 

In 1627, 4400 Cossacks of the Don, aided by 1000 Zapo- 
rogues of the Dnieper, surprised Azof, and offered to make a gift 
of it to the Tzar of Moscow. The acquisition of such an impor- 
tant place, which would secure the command of the mouth of the 
Don and access to the Black Sea, was very tempting to Russia. 
Ascain Michael Romanof assembled his Estates. We must observe 
that since Ivan IV. first assembled them the meetings had become 
more and more frequent. The parliamentary history of Russia 
dates from the reign of " the Terrible." This time the nobles 
declared themselves ready to fight if they had money given them 
for their equipment, and begged the Tzar to exact it from the 
clergy and merchants. The latter alleged that the robberies of 
the public functionaries, the prolongation of the wars, and the 
rivalries with the Germans and Persians, had ruined them. The 
officers sent by the Tzar to Azof reported that it was in too bad 
a state for defence. In fact the conquest of Azof, like that of 
the Crimea in the time of Ivan, was premature, Russian coloni- 
zation not having as yet extended itself sufficiently towards the 
South. The Tzar gave orders accordingly to the Dontsi for its 
evacuation, and they did not leave one stone upon another. 

Western influence made considerable progress during this 
reign. The merchants entreated that access into the interior 
might be forbidden to those strangers whose rivalry was their 
ruin ; but the latter were, on the contrary, so necessary to the 
State and to the general progress that they had to be invited 
into the country by all possible means. Under Michael, more 
foreigners than ever came into Russia. Vinius the Dutchman 
established foundries at Toula for guns, bullets, and other iron 
weapons. Marselein the German opened similar ones on the 
Vaga, the Kostroma, and the Cheksna. Privileges were granted 
to other foreign merchants or artisans, and the only condition 
imposed on them was not to conceal the secrets of their indus- 
tries from the inhabitants of the countries. This is another 
point of resemblance between this reign of reform and that of 
Henri IV., who also summoned to his kingdom Flemish, Eng- 


lish, and Venetian artisans. One European import did not 
however, find favor in Russia — the usage of tobacco was for- 
bidden, and snuif-takers had their noses cut off. 

Learned men were also sought from Europe. Adam Olea- 
rius of Holstein, a celebrated astronomer, geographer, and 
geometer, was invited to Moscow. Already the Academy of 
Sciences of Peter the Great was foreshadowed. A cosmographi- 
cal treatise was translated from Latin into Russian, The Patri- 
arch Philarete had established at Moscow an academy where 
Greek and Latin, the languages of the Renaissance, were taught. 
The Archimandrite Dionysius of Troitsa, who had distinguished 
himself in the struggle with the Poles, undertook to correct the 
text of the Slavonian books — a hazardous enterprise, which cost 
Dionysius himself a short period of persecution. Native histori- 
ans continued to re-edit their chronicles, and Abraham Palit- 
syne, cellarer of Troitsa, narrated the famous siege of the 




The political union of Lublin (1509), and the religious union (1595) — Com* 
plaints of White Russia — Risings in Little Russia. 


UNION (1595). 

Spain in the i6th century had taken a large share in the 
troubles of France ; France in the 17th century dismembered the 
Spanish Empire. In like manner Poland expiated her part in 
the civil wars of Russia. After the reforming reign of Michael 
Romanof, his son Alexis was to inaugurate the era of reprisals. 
Russia had almost fallen before Poland, like France before Bur- 
gundy or Austria, but she grew strong at Poland's expense, and 
on the ruins of Poland founded her own greatness. A glance at 
the constitution of the Polish Empire will show us what internal 
difficulties prepared the way for the external enemy — the Mus- 
covite, the Afoska/, as he was called by the men of the West. 

White Russia and Little Russia had been conquered by the 
Lithuanians, and formed with them part of the Polo-Lithuanian 
State. They kept for a long while Russian manners and habits. 
The Russian language was used in the acts of legislation till 
the i6th, and even till the 17th century. For a short time, 
under the early Jagellons, it had even been the language of the 
Court. Soon, however, Polish influence predominated in the 
ruling class. The Russo-Lithuanian nobility were divided, like 
the Polish nobility, into fnagnates, who possessed large territories 
and occupied the high offices, schliachtas or lesser nobles, who 
formed the retainers and almost the servants of the magnates. 
The military class assembled in the diets and (Mtines. The 
king's officers bore the titles of vo'tevodes, castellans, and starosts. 
The Russo-Lithuanian towns, like those of Poland, received 
what was called " the law of Magdeburg." They were governed 
by a vogt of the king, who administered justice, assisted by the 
burgomaster and by rathmdnner. The trading classes organized 



themselves, after the German fashion, into z/che., tribes or cor- 

Up to that time Russo-Lithuania and Poland had formed 
two States, distinct in law ; and at the extinction of the Jagel- 
lons, who had always maintained them in a personal union, it 
was feared they would again separate. Ivan IV. founded great 
hopes on this expected separation, but the Poles in the reign 
of Sigismond made a great effort to accomplish a definite union. 
A diet was held at Lublin. The Russo-Lithuanian aristocracy 
were much averse to the union ; difference of religion, national 
self-love, and corporate interests created a barrier between them 
and Poland. The Government shrank from no means of over- 
coming their resistance. It threatened not to defend Lithuania 
against the incursions of the Tzar, and to resume the Crown lands 
held by the refractory nobles. Notwithstanding, the Polish 
party were almost checkmated ; rather than yield, the Lithuanian 
deputies left the diet in a body. At last the king contrived to 
gain two of the most influential members — Constantine Ostrojski, 
voievode of Kief, and Alexander Czartoryski, vo'ievode of Vol- 
hynia. Nicholas Radziwill, who had so long held the Polish 
tendencies in check, and who was the last representative of in- 
dependent Lithuania, was dead. The king managed also to win 
over the Little Russian nobility, less hostile to Catholic Poland 
than the Protestant nobility of Lithuania. The Unio7i of Lublin 
provided that the two crowns should be united on the same 
head, with equal rights ; that there should be only one general 
diet and one senate ; that they should sit at Warsaw, a Mazo- 
vian town, which was to become the capital of the new State ; 
and that Poland and Lithuania should preserve each its great dig- 
nitaries — chancellor, vice-chancellor, marshals, and hetmans— 
their own army and their laws. The Russian countries, prop- 
erly so called, underwent a fresh dismemberment. Little Russia 
was specially united to Poland. 

The natural result of the Union of Lublin was the growth 
of Polish influence in the Russian territory. On one side, the 
Polish nobles had obtained the right of acquiring lands and 
holding offices in Lithuania ; on the other, the Russian nobility, 
by mingling more completely with the nobility of the neighbor- 
ing country, adopted its ideas, habits, fashions, and even its 
language. It began to be Polonized, thus widening the breach 
that separated it from the masses of the people, profoundly at- 
tached to their tongue and their nationality. The division be- 
tween the aristocracy and the people increased still further, when 
the Catholic propaganda penetrated among the nobility of the 
Kussian territory. 



A special article of the Union of Lublin ensured respect to 
the orthodox religion. Poland and Lithuania had not, however, 
been able to escape from the great religious struggles that then 
divided Western Europe, and which sent a wave even into Po 
land. A certain number of lords had embraced Protestantism 
(Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Socinianism), The Jesuits, who 
were everywhere at the head of the reaction against reform, and 
whose hand may be traced in all the civil wars of the i6th and 
17th centuries, soon made their appearance in Poland. Prot- 
estantism only took a feeble root in the country, and did not 
occupy them long ; they then turned their attention to orthodoxy, 
the real national religion of the Russo-Lithuanian provinces. 
They employed the same means by which they had hitherto 
succeeded everywhere in Europe : founded colleges, obtained a 
hold on the young people, insinuated themselves into the con- 
fidence of the women, gained the ear of the kings, and reckoned 
yet more surely on their worldly cleverness than on the purely 
ecclesiastical means of preaching, confession, and pilgrimages. 
The brave Batory, who specially occupied himself with all that 
concerned the public peace and national greatness, kept them 
at a distance. They found a monarch more to their taste in 
Sigismond IIL, a feeble copy of the Philips of Spain and the 
Ferdinands of Austria, and well fitted to draw on the East the 
calamities that desolated Germany and the West. He protected 
the Jesuits, and exhausted all the influence and seductions that 
the throne put at his disposal, to convert the orthodox nobility 
of his oriental provinces to Catholicism. In order to enlarge 
the field of conversions, the Jesuits invented a compromise, 
which was to obtain from the Russian clergy and people their 
submission to the Holy See, while their Slavonic liturgy and 
special usages were guaranteed them ; this is what is called the 
Union of the two Churches. In fact, the wiioH once obtained, 
they thought it but a step to unity, and even uniformity. Peter 
Skarga the Jesuit, who published the book of ' The Unity of the 
Church of God,' wished to exclude the teaching of Slavonic, 
and only admit that of Greek and Latin. In order to make 
their plan more easily accepted by Government, they represented 
to it that the effect of their religious " union " wouxd be con- 
solidation of the political union of Lublin, and that a true Polish 
Estate would not exist till the subjects held the same faith as 
their prince. 

Now orthodoxy, menaced by the King of Poland, found a 
powerful support in the Russian princes descended from Rurik 
and Gedimin. We have seen Prince Kourbski, in the time of 
Ivan IV., and later, Constantine Ostrojski, defend by their 
Vol. 1 Russia 12 


pen, their word and their influence, the faith of their fathers, and 
translate, compile, and disseminate books in favor of orthodoxy. 
Little by little the nobles yielded to the influence of the Court ; 
in their struggle with the Roman religion, the people saw them- 
selves abandoned almost entirely by their natural chiefs, and 
even by their bishops. The king filled the Lithuanian sees 
with prelates who were great princes, wholly indifferent to theo- 
logical questions, and proud of their immense riches, of their 
numerous villages, and their strong castles bristling with artillery. 
Still the people did not give up all hope. From Novgorod the 
Great, from Pskof, from Germany, the principle of association 
had spread widely among the cities of Western Russia. Socie- 
ties were formed for mutual assistance, which had their roots in 
the most distant Slavonic, German, or Scandinavian past ; they 
were at the same time religious confraternities, and took an 
energetic part in the strife with the Jesuits. They had their 
elected chiefs, their common treasury, and they began to found 
schools, to set up printing-presses, and to disseminate polemical 
or pious books. They entered into mutual relations, and formed 
ties with the patriarchs of the East ; to the royal bishops they 
opposed a democratic force, watching them, reprimanding them, 
and denouncing the carelessness of their religion or manners to 
orthodox Christendom. The most celebrated of these confra- 
ternities were those of Lemberg in Gallicia, of Wilna in Lithua- 
nia, and of Loutsk in Volhynia ; that of Kief founded the great 
ecclesiastical academy of Little Russia. 

Under the stimulus of these popular societies, the bishops 
could no longer remain indifferent. It was necessary to take up 
a position at the head of the believers, or pass over to the ranks 
of the enemy. The orthodox prelates were in a very difficult 
position ; they were in disgrace with the Government as the de- 
fenders of orthodoxy, and at the same time were harassed as 
lukewarm by the orthodox demagogy. Terletski, Bishop of 
Loutsk, was in this trying situation — the starost of Loutsk, a 
convert to Catholicism, directed a fierce persecution against his 
ancient bishop. Terletski was taken, imprisoned, and starved 
in his dungeon ; he complained, but an orthodox bishop could 
expect no justice. He saw only one means of escaping from 
this humiliation, to disarm the violence of the Catholic nobles, 
and to enjoy in peace his episcopal revenues : this was to pass 
over to the Union. His neighbor, Ignatius Potiei, Bishop of 
Vladimir in Volhynia, and Michael Ragoza, Metropolitan of 
Kief, Primate of Western Russia, who was discon tented with the 
Patriarch of Constantinople, followed his example. Sigismond 
HI. received these first defections with joy ; Terletski and Potiei' 

''T- ^A 













left for Rome ; and placed the Russian Church at the feet of 
Clement VIII. The Pope celebrated this success by pompous 
solemnities(i595) , but the projected union could not be realized 
without the consent of all the Russian bishops, of whom only- 
three, the Metropolitan and the two Volhynians, were as yet 
gained over. Balaba, Bishop of Lemberg — who, although he 
was always at war with the confraternity, had not sacrificed the 
national cause to his private enmity — remained with a layman, 
Constantine Ostrojski, the soul of orthodoxy. A council was 
held at Brest, in Lithuania (1596), under the presidency of Ni- 
cephorus, envoy of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The three 
dissidents refused to attend. Then the bishops formulated the 
anathema and the sentence of deposition. The Uniates hastened 
to retaliate by an excommunication, but their attempt in favor 
of the cause of Rome failed piteously. The people everywhere 
declared against them. At Wilna Bishop Potiei was assassi- 
nated by the citizens. At Vitepsk, Bishop Kountsdvitch, who, 
from a renegade, had become a persecutor, gave occasion for a 
terrible riot ; he was stabbed and thrown into the Dwina. 
Many of the citizens were punished, and the city deprived of 
" the law of Magdeburg." The Uniates fished out of the 
Dwina the body of the prelate, and his tomb shortly became 
famous for its reputed miracles. At Kief, Veniamine Routski, 
a successor of Ragoza, re-organized the convents on the model 
of Latin monasteries : the monks took the name of Basilians. 
They did not gain in popularity. A Little Russian saying at- 
tributes to them the following catechism : — " Wherefore did 
God create thee and put thee in the world ? " " To do the 
seigneurs' dirty work." 

The Eastern Church did not allow itself to be defeated so 
easily as the Jesuits had hoped. It opposed schools with 
schools, propaganda with propaganda ; it preached and it printed. 
The Uniate Routski was replaced even at Kief by Peter Mohila, 
a zealous partisan of orthodoxy. He was a rough prelate, such 
as was needed in those hard times, and an old soldier, ready to 
meet force with force. A monastery of the diocese resisted his 
authority ; he marched to it instantly with troops and guns, and 
chastised the rebels. He made the school founded bv the con- 
fraternity into a college, like those of the Jesuits ; instituted 
professors of Latin, Greek, and philosophy, and made it the in- 
tellectual centre of Western Russia, and one of the points of de- 
parture of the Russian Renaissance (1633). 

j68 history of RUSSIA. 


In the diets of Warsaw, the complaints of the orthodox 
clergy, and of the country people, more completely enslaved, 
more cruelly oppressed since they no longer held the religion of 
their masters, did not remain without an echo. A deputy from 
Volhynia, Lawrence Drevninski, exclaimed at the Diet of 1620 : 
" When your Majesty makes war on Turkey, from whom do you 
obtain the greater part of your troops ? From the Russian na- 
tion, which holds the orthodox faith ; from that nation which, if 
it does not receive relief from its sufferings and an answer to its 
prayers, can no longer continue to make itself a rampart for your 
kingdom. How can you beg it to sacrifice all to secure for the 
country the blessings of peace, when in its homes there is no 
peace ? Everyone sees clearly the persecutions that the old 
Russian nation suffers for its religion. In the large towns our 
churches are sealed up, and our goods are pillaged ; from the 
monasteries the monks have departed, and cattle are shut up in 
them. Children die without baptism ; the ashes of the dead, de- 
prived of the prayers of the Church, are carried out of the city 
like dead beasts ; men and women live together without the ben- 
ediction of the priest ; they die without confession, w'ithout com- 
munion. Is not this to offend God himself, and will not God 
avenge His people ? At Lemberg no one, not a Uniate, can live 
in the city, trade freely, and enter into the zeche of artisans. . . . 
For twentv vears in each dic'tine, in each diet, we have asked for 
our rights and liberties with bitter tears, and for twenty years 
we have not been able to obtain them. We shall have to cry 
with the prophet, ' O God, judge me, and judge my actions.' " 
The situation of the serfs had become specially intolerable : 
to the Polish or Polonized lord, to the Latin missionary, was 
added a third scourge, the Jew, whom the noble had made stew- 
ard of his lands, and to whom he had given the right of life 
and death over his subjects, and farmed out the fishing and hunt- 
ing, the roads and taverns, even the orthodox Church, so com- 
pleteh% that the peasant could neither marry nor baptize his 
child without having bought from this miscreant the access to 
the sanctuary. 

The populations of White Russia had suffered, and were 
still to suffer long, without rebellion. It was not the same with 
the Little Russian populations of the Ukraine. They had 
colonized the steppes of the south, and reconquered the desert 
from the Tatars. To attract emigrants to fill the royal grants, 
the Polish lords offered twenty or thirty years of absolute lib- 



erty. Thanks to this, the desert was peopled with unheard-ol 
rapidity, and on this virgin soil a nation was formed, ignorant of 
slavery, that spoke not of thirty years' liberty, but perpetual 
freedom. The King of Poland favored this race of hardy 
pioneers — these intrepid soldiers. The Ukraine was for him a 
sort of military frontier, a strong rampart for Poland against the 
Tatar and the Turk. 

These warlike populations were organized in twenty polki 
of Cossack — those of Perdiaslaf, Tcherkask, Mirgorod, Pultowa, 
Sic. Each polk had its polkovnik or colonel ; all obeyed one 
supreme chief, the hetman of Little Russia nominated by the 
king, who presided over the starchitui * or council of elders. In 
time the Cossacks became formidable to Poland herself ; they 
incessantly embroiled her with her formidable neighbor, the 
Ottoman Empire. Batory was forced to punish with death more 
than one Cossack chief for having violated a truce or a treaty 
of peace, and he also limited the number of the military popula- 
tion, only recognizing as Cossacks tliose who were inscribed on 
the register, to the number of six thousand, condemning the 
others to the cultivation of the soil ; that is, to serfage. But the 
Cossacks would have nothing to do with the corvee of ihepans, 
nor admit the limitations of the king. Notwithstanding the 
register, they remained in arms, a formidable force, who in the 
religious struggle were all enlisted on the side of orthodoxy, 
and who caused royalty and the Uniate hierarchy and aristocracy 
to tremble. 

Besides the Cossacks of the sedentary populations or the 
Cossacks of the towns, there were also the Zaporogues "beyond 
the porogs " or cataracts of the Dnieper. They stood in the same 
relation to the Little Russian Cossacks as those did to the Russo- 
Lithuanian population ; they were the vanguard of the vanguard, 
the forlorn hope of the Russian nationality. Entrenched in the 
" Large Meadow," a fortified island of the Dnieper, they had 
built a fort or sefe/ia surrounded by a palisade. They recog- 
nized no authority ; like the Knights of Rhodes and Malta, 
they encamped on the land wrested from the Mussulmans, and 
continued the holy war with Turk and Tatar, when Chris- 
tendom was at peace with him. They neither gave nor asked 
quarter, existed on the plunder of the infidel, courted dangers 
and " martyrdom," and received no women in their camp. They 

* The starchina was composed of the oboznvi, the head of the baggage 
department ; of the judge ; of the pisar, or chancellor ; of the esaoul ; of tiie 
stan.iard-bearer ; of the polkovtiiks ; of the stoiiiks, or centurions ; of the 
atamans. When the king invested the hetman, he handed to him the bound-> 
chouk (or banner), like a horse's tail, the stick or mace, and the seal. 



were a race of warrior-monks, a Church militant, the Templars 
and Hospitallers of the Dnieper. More than one Polish noble 
of high rank came to join them in their life of adventure and 
heroic poverty, and learnt from them lessons of courage and 
chivalry. All were equal, all brothers, and ate like the Spartans 
at a common table ; the offices of the ataman of the camp, and 
of the ten atamans of the kourenes, were obtained by election. 
In close union with the Cossacks of the Don, they were on land 
and sea the scourge of Islamism — the Barbary Christians of 
the Black Sea. 

The ill-feeling between the aristocratic government of Poland 
and the orthodox population of Little Russia continued to in- 
crease. When the Polish nobles wished to treat the free hus- 
bandmen as serfs, they deserted in crowds to the countries of 
the Ukraine ; the boldest went to reinforce the hordes of the 
Dnieper Cossacks, or the setcha of the Zaporogues. The Kobzars 
(blind bards) hastened from village to village, singing the song 
of the parvada (justice) : " In this world there is no justice, 
justice is not to be found here ; now justice lives under the laws 
of injustice. To-day justice is imprisoned by the nobles ; in- 
justice is seated at her ease by the pans in the hall of honor. 
To-day justice stands near the threshold, and injustice is throned 
with the /rt^^j, and hydromel is poured out into cups for injustice, 
O justice ! our mother with the wings of an eagle, where shall 
we find thee ? May God send the man who will perform justice 
— days of prosperity." These wandering poets sang so per- 
sistently, that the villages were emptied for the benefit of the 
Cossack camps, and justice ended by spreading her " eagle's 
wings," and the men " who were to perform justice " showed 
themselves openly. 

The orthodox religion persecuted by the Uniates, the threat- 
ened serfage, the insolence of the nobles, the robberies of the 
Jews, the register and its limitation, gave rise in the i6th and 
17th centuries to a series of revolts, in which the Zaporogues, 
zealous adherents of orthodoxy, in spite of their brigandage, 
played a great part. Specially distinguished among the Cossack 
chiefs were Nalivaiko, Pavliouk, Ostranitsa, and many others, 
whose memory has been retained by the wandering singers of 
the Ukraine. The Government wished after each victory to 
give satisfaction to the Little Russians, but their authority was 
not sufficient to restrain either the exigencies of the pans or 
the intolerance of the Jesuits. To the horrible atrocities per- 
petrated on the insurgents, the latter retaliated at each insurrec- 
tion by atrocities still greater. Each time the Government was 
victorious, and after each defeat the yoke pressed more heavily 



on Little Russia. From these successes sprang a new danger 
for Poland. The eyes of the oppressed turned towards an ortho- 
dox sovereign — the Tzar of Russia ; the democratic populations 
of the Ukraine surmounted their repugnance to authority, on 
seeing the anarchic violence produced by Polish liberties. The 
Cossacks imagined they could conquer if they had an ally, and 
this ally was only to be found at Moscow. 




Early years of Alexis — Seditions — Khmelnitski — Conquest of Smolensk and 
the Eastern Ukraine — Stenko Razine — Ecclesiastical reforms of Nioon— 
The precurso. of Peter the Great — Reign of Feodor Alexievitch (1676- 


The reign of Alexis Mikhailovitch may be summed up in 
three facts : the reaction against Poland and the union with Little 
Russia ; the struggle between the empire and the Cossacks ; the 
first attempt at religious reform, and the growth of European 

The new Tzar, the son of Michael and Eudoxia Strechnef, 
was good and easy, like his father. In his most violent rages, 
say the contemporary writers, he never allowed himself to go 
beyond kicks and cuffs. Though his mind was quicker than his 
father's, he gave himself up to anyone who took the trouble to 
influence him, even to the point of permitting himself to be 
ruled entirely ; unlike Ivan the Terrible, who, as wc have seen, 
never long retained the same favorites. The extreme good- 
nature of the prince towards his relations had grave consequences. 
The people were oppressed with impunity, and were allowed to 
make no complaint. Alexis gave all his confidence to the boy- 
ard Morozof, who had taken charge of his education, and for 
thirty years had never left him. Morozof was proud, ambitious, 
and unscrupulous ; but learned, intelligent, and full of Jinesse. 
He excelled above all in disentangling the diplqmatic complica- 
tions bequeathed to him by the last reign. When Alexis was 
about to marry, Morozof did not disturb himself at seeing the 
young bride, Maria Ilinitchna Miloslavski, arrive with a whole new 
dynasty of relations and " men of the time." Instead of con- 
spiring, as was usual, against the health or beauty of the Tzarina, 
he preferred to associate her family with his power, and take 
from them a surety. He married a sister of Maria Ilinitchna, 
and became the brother-in-law of his sovereign. He thus added 



to the old title of favorite the new one of a kinsman by his wife 
and was strengthened in his power instead of being ejected from 
it. His influence with his master was greater than Richelieu's 
with Louis XIII., and he had the honor of beginning the revenge 
for the civil wars — the war with Poland. 

Affairs in the interior were always too complicated for Alexis 
to be able to act very energetically in his relations with foreign 
Powers. The Russian people in the " time of the troubles " had 
unlearnt the passive and resigned obedience that had formerly 
distinguished them ; they knew no longer how to suffer uncom- 
plainingly, and complaint soon led to revolt. We must also rec- 
ognize the fact that they suffered more than formerly. Russia 
had come exhausted out of her civil wars, her agriculture and 
commerce were ruined, and her population diminished by emi- 
grations and flight into the Cossack country. The state, which 
already began to feel the heavy expenses of a modern empire, 
which had to keep up an army, foreign troops, all the machinery 
of war, diplomacy, and an administration, saw itself forced to 
increase the taxes, which fell more heavily than ever on the 
thinned population. The Russian Government united the vices 
of the past with those of modern times ; the corruption of its 
agents, the impunity of the favorites and their creatures, and 
the defective organization of justice, tried to the utmost the 
diminished patience of the people. 

The year 1648, which saw the breaking-out of the Fronde in 
France, witnessed a terrible revolt in Moscow. The Tzar, power- 
less to stem the torrent, had to deliver the judge Plechtchdef 
over to the people, who dealt him summary justice. They then 
demanded the okohiitchii Trakhaniotes, who was likewise handed 
over to them ; finally, their fury turned against Morozof, but the 
Tzar aided his brother-in-law to escape and take refuge in the 
convent of St. Cyril, whence he emerged quietly, like another 
Mazarin, when the public emotion was appeased. At Pskof the 
people rose on pretence that the Government had given money 
and corn to the Niemtsi (Germans) — that is, the Swedes — in ac- 
cordance with the last treaty with this Power. Nummens, the 
Swede, was maltreated and imprisoned by the populace ; the 
voievode and the Prince Volkonski, envoy of Moscow, expected 
to be put to death, and Archbishop Macarius was twice put in 
chains. From Pskof the re /clt spread to Novgorod, where the 
Danish ambassador was attacked by the people, and left for 
dead in the streets. Archbishop Nicon, who tried to quell the re- 
bellion by spiritual arms, was met by blows, and the streltsi made 
common cause with the people. Novgorod only submitted at the 
approach of Prince Khovanski at the head of his troops. These 


troops were insufficient for the reduction of Pskof, which, be- 
hind her tried ramparts, prepared to resist the Muscovites, as 
she had resisted the Poles. The Pskovians made many success- 
ful sorties, and only capitulated under the promise of a general 
amnesty. Khovanski's troops were too few to enable him to 
refuse their conditions, and it was time to turn against external 
enemies the spirit of turbulence that the civil war had left in 
the masses. 

Happily for Russia, Poland was still more profoundly agi- 
tated, and a revolt more considerable than those of Moscow, 
Pskof, or Novgorod, was to open to the Muscovite armies the 
entrance into the Ukraine. 


We have seen that Little Russia, after many partial risings, 
only awaited a chief to break out into a general insurrection. 
This chief was found in Bogdan Khmelnitski, — a brave, clever, 
energetic, and even educated Cossack. He was owner of Soub- 
botovo, near Tchigirine, and had been ill-treated and imprisoned 
by one of his neighbors, the Pole Tchaplinski, who also seized 
on Khmelnitski's son, a boy of ten years, and had him whipped 
in the public streets by his men. Khmelnitski could obtain no 
redress, either for himself or for his countrymen, against the 
Jews and the taxes. King Vladislas is said to have told him 
that the senators would not obey him, and, drawing a sword on 
paper, he handed it to Bogdan, observing, " This is the sign 
royal : if you have arms at your sides, resist those who insult 
and rob you ; revenge your wrongs with your swords, and when 
the time comes you will help me against the pagans and the 
rebels of my kingdom." In the Polish anarchy of that date it is 
quite possible that the king may have held this language, and 
himself placed the sword in the hands of those whom he could 
not protect. Vladislas acknowledged Bogdan ataman of the 
Zaporogues, and in return Bogdan promised him the following 
year a body of 12,000 men. 

Konetspolski, the gonfalonier of the Crown, and Poto^ki, 
tried to get rid of Bogdan, but he fled to the Zaporogues, and 
then passed over to the Khan of the Crimea, and returned to 
the heroes of the Dnieper with a Mussulman army. To Tatars 
and Zaporogues were soon added all the malcontents of Little 
Russia. Cossacks and people were alike determined to finish 
with it, Bogdan defeated the Polish generals Poto$ki and 



Kalinovski ; first at the " Yellow Waters," where the registered 
Cossacks abandoned the Pohsh banners after having stabbed 
their hetman Barabbas, and then at Korsoun, where the Poles 
lost 8000 men and 41 guns. The two generals fell into the 
hands of Bogdan, who delivered them up to the Khan of the 
Crimea. This double victory was the signal of a general insur- 
rection. The orthodox clergy everywhere preached a crusade 
against the Jesuits and Uniates, and everywhere the peasants 
rose against the Polish or Polonized pans. The castles were 
demolished, the governors put to death. The Jews were in a 
sad strait. According to a popular song they only asked one 
thing — to be allowed " to escape in their shirts beyond the Vis- 
tula, abandoning their wealth to the Cossacks, and promising to 
teach their children to live honestly, and to covet no more the 
land of the Ukraine " (1648). 

At this critical moment for Poland, King Vladislas died, and 
the Diet met at Warsaw for the new election, with all its accus- 
tomed turbulence. At this news the revolt in Little Russia in- 
creased. Wherever the nobles could defend themselves they 
gave back cruelty for cruelty. Jeremiah Vichnevetski, a power- 
ful Polonized Russian lord, took a town belonging to him by 
assault, and exercised the most horrible reprisals. " Make 
them suffer," he cried to the executioners, " they must be made 
to feel death ; " and his Cossack prisoners were impaled. The 
Cossacks, who in the absence of a king expected justice from 
no one, broke out more violently than ever. Khmelnitski pur- 
sued his course of success ; he defeated the Poles near Pilava, 
and penetrated into Gallicia as far as Lemberg, a rich, half- 
Jewish city, which had to pay a war indemnity. He was be- 
sieging Podmostid when he learned that John Casimir was 
elected in the place of his brother Vladislas. The new king at 
once sent envovs to negotiate his submission. The commis- 
sioners promised him satisfaction for his own grievances and 
those of the Cossacks on condition that the insurgents were 
abandoned to them. " Let the peasants return to their ploughs, 
and the Cossacks alone bear arms," said the Poles. Bogdan 
could neither abandon the Cossacks, who would not hear of the 
register, nor the country people, whose revolt had given him the 
victory, to be again placed, as was proposed, under the yoke of 
the/^//j. "The time for negotiations is past," he said to the 
commissioners ; " I must free the whole Russian nation from 
the yoke of the Poles. At first I took up arms for my own in- 
juries — now I fight for the true faith. The people will stand by 
me as far as Lublin, as far as Cracow ; I will not betray them." 
The war continued, and Bogdan summoned the Khan of the 



Crimea to his aid, and marched to meet the Polish army, com- 
manded by the king in person. John Casimir found himself at 
Zborovo surrounded by the innumerable cavalry of the enemy. 
It would have been all over with him had he not purchased the 
defection of the Khan of the Crimea by a large sum, and the 
promise of an annual tribute. The Khan then retired, recom- 
mending his ally to the clemency of the king. Khmelnitski was 
driven to treat ; the register was re-established, but the number 
of Cossacks enrolled was raised to 40,000 ; Bogdan was recog- 
nized hetman of Little Russia, and the town of Tchigirine as- 
signed to him as a residence. It was agreed that there should 
be neither Crown troops nor Jews in the localities inhabited by 
the Cossacks, and no Jesuits where orthodox schools existed. 
The Metropolitan of Kief was to have a seat in the senate of 

What Bogdan had foreseen when he refused to treat really 
happened ; the treaty could not be executed. The number of 
fighting men who had taken part in the election exceeded 40,000 
• — were those in excess to be relegated to the work of the fields, 
to the seignorial corvee? The people had helped the Cossacks, 
were they then to be surrendered to their pa7is f Bogdan soon 
found himself involved in inextricable difficulties : on one side 
he violated the treaty by enrolling more than 40,000 men in his 
register ; on the other hand, if he executed it, he would have to 
begin by inflicting d^ath on the rebels. He wore out his popu- 
larity in performing this ungrateful task. He preferred to take 
up arms, accusing the Poles of having broken certain clauses of 
the treaty. This war was less successful than the first ; the 
Khan of the Crimea, who a second time came to the aid of the 
Cossacks, a second time betrayed them, and the Cossacks were 
beaten at Berestechtko. The conditions of the Peace of the 
White Church {Bela'ia Tcherkqf) were more severe than those of 
the first peace. The number of registered Cossacks was reduced 
to 20,000 ; and 20,000 more, thus finding themselves excluded 
from the army, were thrown back upon the people. The greater 
part chose rather to emigrate to Russian soil, to wander to the 
Don, or to live by brigandage on the Volga. 

A peace such as this was only a truce, and the Cossacks 
were certain to break it as soon as they could find an ally. 
Bogdan wrote to entreat the Tzar to take Little Russia under 
his protection. The Government of Alexis had sought for some 
time a pretext for rupture with Poland. The Polish Government, 
in writing to the Tzar, had not used the full royal title. Moscow 
never missed an opportunity for remonstrance ; Warsaw assured 
them that it was pure inadvertence. " Then," said the 



Russians, " an example must be made of the guilty." No ex- 
ample was made, and the diminution of title was used at every 
interchange of notes. The Court of Russia kept up this casus 
belli, waitiiig for a moment to profit by it ; this was found in the 
appeal of Khmelnitski. The Estates were convoked, and to 
them were reported the repeated insults to his Tzarian Majesty, 
and the persecution of the true faith in Little Russia. It was 
added, that the Little Russians, if repulsed by the Tzar, would 
have to place themselves under the protection of the Sultan. 
On this occasion the Estates declared for war. Alexis sent the 
boyard Boutourline to receive the oath of the hetman, the army, 
and the people of Little Russia. 

It was time that the Tzar decided. Bogdan, betrayed a 
third time by the Khan, had been defeated at Ivanetz on the 
Dniester, but on the receipt of the news from Moscow he called 
the General Assembly at Perdiaslavl to announce to them the 
fact. " Noble colonels ; esaouls, and centurions, and you army 
of Zaporogues, and you orthodox Cliristians," cried the hetman, 
"you see it is no longer possible to live without a prince. Now 
we have four to choose from : the Sultan of Turkey, the Khan of 
the Crimea, the King of Poland, and the Tzar of orthodox 
Great Russia, whom for six years we have not ceased to entreat 
to become our Tzar and lord. The Sultan is a Mussulman ; we 
know what our brethren the orthodox Greeks suffered at his 
hands. The Khan is also a Mussulman, and our alliances with 
him have brougi.. us nothing but trouble. It is needless to 
remind you of what the Polish /«;u have made us endure. But 
the Christian and orthodox Tzar is of the same religion as 
ourselves. We shal.' DOt find a better support than his. Who- 
ever thinks otherwise may go where he likes — the way is open." 
The air rang with applause, the oath demanded by Boutourline 
was taken, and an embassy set out for Moscow, to ask the main- 
tenance of Ukranian liberties. The Tzar freely granted all 
their conditions : the army was to be raised permanently to the 
number of 60,000 ; the Cossacks were to elect their hetman ; 
the rights of the schliachta and the towns were to be maintained ; 
the administration of the towns and the imposition of taxes 
were to be entrusted to the natives ; the hetman was to have 
the right of receiving foreign ambassadors, but was to signify 
the fact to the Tzar; and he was forbidden, without special 
leave, to receive the envoys of Turkey and Poland. 

In May 1654 the Tzar Alexis solemnly announced in the 
Ouspimski Sober that he had resolved to march in person 
against his enemv the King of Poland. He commanded that 
in this campaign no occasion should be given for the generals 


to dispute precedence. The Polish voievodes affirm that on this 
occasion " Moscow made war in quite a new way, and conquered 
the people by the clemency and gentleness of the Tzar." This 
humanity, so well timed in a war of deliverance, contributed 
greatly to the success of the Muscovites. Polotsk, Mohilef, and 
all the towns of White Russia opened their gates one after the 
other, and Smolensk only resisted five weeks (1654). The 
following year the Prince Tcherkasski defeated the hetman 
Radziwill and began the conquest of Lithuania proper; Wilna, 
the capital, Grodno, and Kobno, fell successively. During this 
time Khmelnitski and the Muscovites invaded Southern Poland 
and tookLublin. All the East resounded with the Russian 
victories : it was said at Moscow that the Greeks prayed for the 
Tzar and refused obedience to any but an orthodox emperor, and 
that the Hospodars of Wallachia and Moldavia implored Alexis 
to take them under his protection. 

Poland seemed reduced to the last extremity ; and there 
was still a third enemy to fall on her. Charles X., King of 
Sweden, arrived and captured Posen, Warsaw, and Cracow, the 
three Polish capitals. This conflict of ambitions was, however, 
the salvation of the. pospoliie ; the Swede threatened the Russian 
conquests, and claimed Lithuania. He entered into relations 
with Khmelnitski, who forgot the oath he had taken ; it was 
Charles XII, and Mazeppa enacted half a century before. The 
Tzar Alexis feared he had only shaken Poland to strengthen 
Sweden, and would not risk the reunion of these two formidable 
monarchies under the same sceptre. He hastened to negotiate 
with the Poles, who promised to elect him after the death of 
their present king; then he turned his arms against Sweden, 
The latter was the heir on the Baltic of the Livonian Order. 
Alexis trod in the steps of Ivan the Terrible ; like him, his 
successes were rapid, but they as rapidly evaporated in smoke. 
He took Diinaburg and Kokenhusen, two old castles of the 
Knights ; but the Russians besieged Riga in vain, and succeeded 
no better at Orechek or Kexholm. The occupation of Dorpat 
terminated the first campaign (1656) ; after that, hostilities lan- 
guished, and Alexis concluded a truce of twenty years, which 
secured him Dorpat and a part of his conquests. The affairs of 
Poland and Little Russia became, however, so terribly compli- 
cated, that the truce became the Peace of Cardis, by which 
Alexis abandoned all Livonia (1661). 

The hetman Khmelnitski had more than once given his new 
sovereign cause for discontent. In spite of his oath, he had 
negotiated with Sweden and Poland. In fact, now that he had 
got rid of his former master, he did not want to become the 



vassal of a new sovereign, but to create a third Slav State be- 
tween Poland and Russia, and to remain its independent 
sovereign. This hope was shared by the Cossacks, They had 
revoked against Poland because the king was weak and could 
not make himself respeced by the aristocracy ; they feared the 
Tzar of Muscovy would be only too strong. All government. 
all authority, was a burden to the free Cossack, 

Bogdan, however, kept up the appearances of submission. His 
death was the signal of disorder. Vygovski, chancellor of the 
Cossack army, took the mace of the hetman, but Martin 
Pouchkar, iht polkovfiik of Pultowa, and the Zaporogues, refused 
to recognize him. Vygovski, Pouchkar, and the Zaporogue 
ataman denounced each other at Moscow. Vygovski caused 
Pouchkar to be assassinated, and made advances to Poland, to 
secure himself an ally against the Tzar ; he also applied to the 
Khan of the Crimea, and defeated Prince Troubetskoi at Kono- 
top ; but after the retreat of the Khan, the majority of the Cos- 
sacks declared for Moscow, and obliged the rebel to fly to 
Poland. George Khmelnitski, son of the liberator, was elected 

The troubles of Little Russia revived the courage of the 
Poles. They succeeded in expelling the Swedes, and refused to 
execute the treaty of Moscow. The war recommenced, and 
the Russians were unfortunate. The very extremity of their 
misfortunes seemed to have bound the Poles together. After 
some slight successes, one Russian army was defeated at 
Polonka by the vo'ievode Tcharnetski, the conqueror of the 
Swedes ; another, commanded by the boyard Cheremetief and 
the hetman George Khmelnitski, allowed itself to be surrounded 
near Tchoudnovo by the Tatars and Poles, and being deserted 
by the Cossacks, was forced to lay down its arms. In the 
north thev lost Wilna and the whole of Lithuania. 

Khmelnitski, had become a monk. Teteria, his successor, 
had done homage to the king ; but the country on the left bank 
of the Dnieper refused to recognize him as hetman, and elected 
Brioukhovetski, who was devoted to Russia. John Casimir 
crossed the river, and was on the point of reconquering the 
whole Ukraine ; but having been repulsed at the siege of Glou- 
khof, he lost all his best troops through hunger and cold in the 
steppes of the desert. The two empires were exhausted by a 
war which had already lasted ten years. The whole of Poland 
had been overrun by Swedes, Russians, and Cossacks. Russia 
had no longer money with which to pay her army, and she had 
recourse to a forced currency, by which a bronze coinage was 
given the fictitious value of silver. Everywhere were heard 


bitter complaints of the famine. At Moscow a riot broke out 
against the Miloslavskis, the kinsmen of the Tzarina, and the 
multitude marched to the palace of Kolomenskod to drag them 
out by force. The soldiers had to fire on the rebels, and 7oo<? 
of them were killed or taken. 

Nothwithstanding all this, neither the Poles nor the Russians 
would lay down arms without being assured the possession of 
all that they had conquered with so many sacrifices. Poland 
was now attacked by two new misfortunes — the revolt of Prince 
Lubomirski, who had some grievance against the queen, and the 
death of Teteria, whose successor, Dorochenko, went over to 
the Sultan, and by so doing involved the Government in a war 
with both Turks and Tatars.- It was necessary to treat with 
Russia, and a thirteen years' truce was concluded at Androus- 
sovo. Alexis renounced Lithuania, but ^ept Smolensk and 
Kief on the right bank of the Dnieper, and all the Little Russian 
left bank (1667). 

The treaty with Poland did not give peace to Little Russia. 
Neither the Dnieper Cossacks nor the Don Cossacks could 
exist under the obedience and regularity essential to a modern 
State. The more Russia became civilized and centralized, the 
more she became separated from the men of the Steppe ; the 
further the frontier of tliis civilized Russia advanced to the 
South, the nearer approached the inevitable conflict. The reign 
of Alexis, troubled at first by the revolts of the Muscovite cities, 
was now vexed by the revolts of the Cossacks. 

The hetman Brioukhovetski was a devoted adherent of 
Russia, but he was surrounded by many malcontents. As usual, 
the people had not got all they had hoped by the revolution ; 
he saw, however, in the absolute authority of the Tzar, a bul- 
wark against the Little Russian oligarchy of the starchina and 
the polkovniks, and against the turbulence of the Cossacks. 
" God," he said to the latter, " has delivered us from you ; you 
can no longer pillage and devastate our houses." The Cossacks 
and the starchina, or in other words, the military and aristocratic 
party, were still more displeased to see the Muscovite voievodes 
establish themselves in the towns. The Republic of the 
Zaporogues already feared that it had given itself a master. 
Methodius, Metropolitan of Kief, encouraged the resistance of 
a party of the clergy who wished ro remain subject to the Patri- 
arch of Constantinople, and not to be transferred to the Patri- 
arch of Moscow. It was Methodius who organized the rebellion ; 
he made advances to the hetman, who opened a negotiation 
with Dorochenko, the ataman of the right bank, who promised 
to resign his office and to recognize as chief of Little Russia the 


man who would deliver her. The weak Brioukhovetski allowed 
himself to be persuaded, and at the Assembly of Gadatch, in 
1668, it was decided to revolt against the Tzar, and to take the 
oath to the Sultan, as the men of the right bank had already 
done. Two voievodes and 120 Muscovites were put to death. A 
short time after, Brioukhovetski was slain by order of Doro- 
chenko, who became hetman of both banks. But of the two 
parties which divided Little Russia, the party of independence 
or the Polish and Turkish Party, and the party of Moscow, the 
latter was predominant on the left bank. It did not hesitate to 
make terms with the Tzar, and, at the price of a few concessions, 
a second time submitted to him entirely. Mnogogrechnyi. the 
new hetman, took up his abode at Batourine. 

The right bank had no reason to pride itself on the policy to 
which it was committed by Dorochenko. It became the theatre 
of a terrible war between Turkey and Poland, and was cruelly 
ravaged by Mahomet IV. Abandoned for a moment by the weak 
King Michael Vichnevetski, it was conquered by his energetic 
successor, John Sobieski. The left, or Muscovite bank, had 
less to suffer, although the Sultan claimed it equally as his own 
possession, but the inhabitants had only to fight with their old 
enemies the Tatars. 

The Cossacks of the Don at this period were, on the whole, 
tolerably quiet ; but one of their number, Stenko Razine, over- 
turned all Eastern Russia. The immigration of Cossacks of the 
Dnieper, expelled from their native land by war, had created a 
great famine in these poor plains of the Don. Stenko assem- 
bled some of these starved adventurers, and formed a scheme 
for the capture of Azof ; but on being hindered by the starchina 
of the Dontsi, he turned towards the East, towards the Volga 
and the Ja'ik (Oural). His reputation was wide-spread ; he 
was said to be a magician, against whom neither sabre, balls, 
nor bullets could prevail, and the brigands of all the country 
crowded to his banner. He swept the Caspian, and ravaged 
the shores of Persia. The Russian Government, powerless to 
crush him, offered him a pardon if he would surrender his guns 
and boats stolen from the Crown. He accepted the offer ; but 
his exploits, his wealth acquired by pillage, and his princely 
liberality created him an immense party among the lower classes, 
and among the Cossacks and even the streltsi of the towns. The 
lands of the Volga were alwavs ready for a social revolution ; 
hence the success of Razine, and later of Pougatchef. There 
brigands were popular and respected ; honest merchants, come 
to the Don for trading purposes, and learning that Stenko had 
begun the career of a pirate, did not hesitate to join him. 


In 1670, Stenko having spent all the money he had gained 
by pillage, went up the Don with an army of vagabonds, and 
thence crossed to the Volga. All the country rose on the ap- 
proach of a chief already so famous. The inhabitants of Tzar- 
itsyne opened their gates to him. A flotilla was sent against 
him, but the sailors and the streltsi surrendered, and betrayed 
to him their commanders. Astrakhan revolted, and delivered 
up its two voievodes, one of whom was thrown from the top of a 
bell-tower. Ascending the Volga, he took Saratof and Samara, 
and raised the country of Nijni-Novgorod, Tambof, and Pensa. 
Everywhere in the Russia of the Volga the serfs revolted 
against their masters — the Tatars, Tchouvaches, Mordvians, and 
Tcheremisses against the domination of Russia. It was a fear- 
ful revolution. In 167 1 Stenko Razine was defeated, near 
Simbirsk, by George Baratinski. His prestige was lost ; he was 
pursued into the steppes, arrested on the Don, and sent to Mos- 
cow, where he was executed (167 1). 

His death did not immediately check the rebellion. The 
brigands still continued to hold the country. At Astrakhan, 
Vassili Ouss governed despotically, and threw the archbishop 
from a belfry. Finally, however, all these imitators of Razine 
were killed or captured, the Volga freed, and the Don became 
as peaceful as the Dnieper. 



If Alexis, father of Peter the Great, was not himself a re- 
former, his whole reign was a preparation for reform. Who can 
tell how much Peter owed to the example of his father — and of 
his mother Natalia, the pupil of Matveef — to the ideas of Ni- 
con, Polotski and Nachtchokine ? Nicon was the son of a 
simple peasant of the Government of Nijni-Novgorod. The 
Church drew the young man from obscurity, and gave him 
little by little a place among those who were great. A 
priest at Moscow, a recluse renowned for his piety on the 
banks of the White Lake, and later an archimandrite of the 
Novospasski Monastyr, he was at last nominated Metropolitan of 
Novgorod, where we have seen him appease a sedition at the 
peril of his life. The Tzar loved and admired him, and made 
him Patriarch, and allowed him to take the title of Chief Noble 
and Sovereign, once borne bv Philarete. A man who had 
raised himself to such a height from such a depth was not cap- 
able of mastering his ambition. Proud and imperious, he made 


himself a multitude of enemies among the clergy and the nobles, 
and despised them. 

Nicon took up the correction of the holy books began by 
Dionysius of Troitsa. A number of gross mistakes and even inter 
polations had slipped into the Slavonic manuscripts, and thence 
passed into print. On being informed of these mistakes by 
some Greek prelates who had come to Moscow, Nicon assem- 
bled a council, where it was decided that the printed books must 
be corrected according to the ancient Slavonic or Greek manu- 
scripts. Nicon collected these texts from all parts, and. with 
the help of learned ecclesiastics, set to work. This attempt, 
which denotes a truly modern and scientific spirit, was the cause 
of a schism. To the people, and to a large party of the clergy 
and monks, everything in the holy books, even the mistakes of 
the copyists, was' sacred. Certain altered or interpolated texts 
had in their turn consecrated usages opposed to those generally 
followed by the Church. The sectaries relying on these texts 
forbade the beard to be shaven under the penalty of committing 
a mortal sin, and ordered the sign of the cross to be made with 
two fingers and not with three, and the liturgy with seven pros- 
pliires and not with five. Fanatics were ready to die sooner than 
read lisous for /sous (Jesus). Besides those whom an excessive 
respect for ancient texts and customs drove into schism, we 
must reckon true heretics, who adopted falsified or apocryphal 
renderings, and who, after having been for long hidden and 
ignored in the bosom of the orthodox Church, were all at once 
unmasked. Thus the reforms of Nicon brought to light the 
raskol latent in the Russian Church, with all its multiplicity of 
sects — Old Believers, Drinkers of Milk, Champions of the 
Spirit, Flagellants, Skoptsi, or voluntary eunuchs, and many 
others, whose origin may be traced to Alexandrine Gnosticism, 
Persian Manichaeism, and perhaps even to Hindu Pantheism 


The Tzar energetically supported his patriarch. He dili- 
gently sought out tiie religious madmen {iourodivic) and the wan- 
dering prophets who led the people astray, disgraced the men 
and women of his Court who persisted in crossing themselves 
with two fingers, imprisoned rebellious monks and ecclesiastics, 
and hunted down assemblies of non-conformists. One of Ni- 
con's enemies was burnt alive. The most curious episode of 
this religious v/ar was the revolt of the holy monasteries of the 
White Sea. The monks, passionately attached to their ancient 
customs, won over the streltsi and the di^ti-hoyarski^ who formed 
the garrison of the forttfied convent of Solovetski. An army 
had to be sent against them (1668), but the monastery only capit- 


ulated after a siege of eight years. It was then taken by as« 
sault, and the rebels hung. 

At the same time that Alexis enabled Nicon to subdue his 
religious foes, he delivered him up to his political enemies. 
The proud and imperious character of the Patriarch had ended 
by rendering him insupportable to the Tzar. It was a reproduc- 
tion of the rivalry of the Patriarch Keroularios and the Em- 
peror Isaac Comnenus in the nth century (Byzantine). The 
courtiers did their best to foment this misunderstanding. Nicon, 
instead of combating their arts, treated them with disdain. At 
last his enemies put upon him a public insult, which made him 
beside himself. In the midst of the tears of the people, he 
solemnly placed his pontifical insignia on the altar, and retired 
to a convent he had founded near Moscow. This was to relin- 
quish the field of battle to his adversaries. He expected that 
the Tzar would beseech him to resume his office, but the Tzar 
did not trouble himself about his old favorite. His voluntary 
exile lasted eight years (1658-1666), when a council was assem- 
bled on the occasion of the arrival of the Patriarchs of Antioch 
and Alexandria at Moscow. The council approved of Nicon's 
reforms and his corrections of the sacred books ; but for his 
voluntary desertion of the patriarchate, his audacious attacks on 
the Tzar and the bishops, and the abuse of his power over the 
inferior clergy, he was condemned to be imprisoned in a mon- 
astery on the White Lake. 

By the side of Nicon among the reformers, we must mention 
Simeon Polotski, tutor of the sons of Alexis, who published 
against the raskolniks the * Rod of Government ; ' wrote light 
verses, panegyrics, sermons, dramatic compositions, maxims, and 
examples drawn from the Scriptures, and never ceased to remind 
the Tzar of a French king. " There was once," he wrote, " a 
King of France called Francis I. As he loved literature and 
science, though his ancestors hated them and lived in ignorance 
like barbarians, the sons of illustrious families sought instruction, 
in order to please the monarch. Thus knowledge spread through 
the country, for it is the custom of subjects to imitate the prince ; 
all love what he loves. Happy is the kingdom whose king gives 
a good example to all ! " Simeon was a White Russian ; others, 
like Slavinetski and Satanovski, who were charged by Nicon with 
the translation of foreign books, were natives of Little Russia, 
of Kief the learned. These two western divisions of Russia 
served as a link between Muscovy and Europe. 

Two writers of this epoch merit special mention. Gregory 
Kotochikhine, under-secretary of the Prikaz of Embassies, was 
obliged, in consequence of a quarrel with the voievode Dat 


gorouki, to fly first into Poland and then into Sweden, where he 
wrote a curious treatise, called ' Russia under the reign of Alexis 
Mikhailovitch,' which appeared about 1666. He does not con- 
cern himself either with the clergy or the inferior classes, but 
gives a frightful picture of the ignorance, sensuality, and brutality 
of the boyards and nobles. So graphic is it that, as PoldvoY 
remarks, we are forced involuntarily to ask, " In what state could 
the lower orders have been ? " He speaks with horror and 
disgust of the administration of justice, compares foreign institu- 
tions with those of his own country to the advantage of the 
former, and regrets that his compatriots did not send their sons 
to be educated abroad. 

louri Krijanitch, a Servian by birth and a Catholic priest, 
was one of those learned Slavs who now came into Russia to seek 
employment for their talents. He had proposed to himself three 
aims in coming to Moscow: i. To elevate the Slavonic tongue 
by compiling a grammar and a lexicon, so that the Slavs might 
learn to speak and write correctly ; and to place a larger number 
of words and phrases at their disposal, so that they might be 
able to express all the thoughts common to the human mind, 
and also political and general ideas. 2. To write the history 
of the Slavs, and to refute the falsehoods and calumnies of the 
Germans. 3. To unmask the tricks and sophisms made use of 
by foreign nations to deceive the Slavs. In his work entitled 
'The Russian Empire in the middle of the 17th Century, dedi- 
cated to Alexis Mikhailovitch, and lately republished by M. 
Bezsonof, he touches on all points of manners and customs, 
politics, and political economy. Like Kotochikhine, he attacks 
ignorance and barbarism, and advocates instruction, study, and 
civilization, as being the only remedies for the misfortunes of 

Krijanitch is the first of the Slavophiles, or the Pan-Slavists, 
as they are at present called. He appeals to all the Slav nations 
' — " Borysthenites, or Little Russians, Poles, Lithuanians, and 
Serbs. He advises the Russians to mistrust equally Germans 
and Greeks. It was probably his philippics against the Greek 
clergy established in Russia that caused him in i66o to be exiled 
to Tobolsk. 

Ordine-Nachtchokine, son of a gentleman of Pskof, distin- 
guished himself as a diplomatist in the negotiations for the Peace 
of Androussovo, which gave Kief and Smolensk to Russia. Sum- 
moned to take part in the councils of the Tzar, he applied his 
activity to all branches of the administration ; to the army, that 
needed reform ; to commerce, that must be freed from the in- 
terference of the voievodes ; to diplomacy, for which men skilled 


in languages, representatives worthy of the Court of Russia, must 
be found. His object was to make Muscovy the centre of 
Asiatic and European trade ; he instituted an Armenian Company 
for the purchase of Persian silks, dreamed of a fleet on the 
Caspian, constructed the first Russian vessel on the Oka, had 
extracts from foreign news-letters regularly translated for the 
enlightenment of the sovereign, and thus founded, though for the 
Tzar's benefit alone, the Russian press. 

As he had necessarily to praise the usages of foreign coun- 
tries, and to find fault wiih those of Russia, Nachtchokine could 
not but make himself many enemies. His morality was equal 
to his talent : incorruptible, indefatigable, and master of himself, 
he was the first great European that Russia had produced. While 
praising Europe he still remained a Russian. In his old age 
he become a monk. 

When Nachtchokine had to leave his post, the boyard 
Matveef, a familiar friend of Alexis, was appointed his successor. 
One day, when the Tzar was dining with Matvdef, he noticed a 
young girl who was serving at table, and who pleased him by her 
modest and intelligent air. This was a motherless girl, Natalia 
Narychkine, to whom her uncle Matveef had been a second 
father. " I have found a husband for her," said the Tzar to 
Matveef some days after. This husband was the Tzar himself. 
The marriage drew closer still the ties that bound him to Matvdef. 
Now the latter was, like Nachtchokine, full of European ideas. 
His house was furnished and ornamented according to Western 
notions. His chosen guests did not give themselves up to the 
orgies authorized by national custom ; they behaved as courte- 
ously as if they were in a French salon. His Scotch wife, a 
Hamiltoa by birth, was the only lady of thq Court who did not 
paint herself, and, instead of keeping herself secluded in her 
apartments, took part in the conversation of men. We may con- 
ceive the influence of the boyard and his wife on their adopted 
daughter ; and is it surprising that Natalia was the first Russian 
princess who drew back the curtains of her litter, and allowed 
her face to be seen by her subjects ? Matvdef protected foreign 
artists, — " masters in perspective writings," as they were called. 
In the German Slobode of Moscow he established a sort of 
dramatic academy, where twenty-five merchants' sons learnt 
to act comedies. The Tzar acquired a taste for theatrical enter- 
tainments. Likatchof, his envoy at the Court of Florence, wrote 
to his sovereign enthusiastic letters full of the marvels which he 
had seen at the opera — of palaces which came and went, of a 
sea that rose and fell and filled itself with fish, of men who rode 
on monsters of the deep, or pursued each other into the clouds. 


Moscow undertook to rival Florence. In a wooden theatre, 
ballets and dramas, adapted from the Bible, were represented 
before the Tzar : ' Joseph sold by his Brethren,' ' The Prodigal 
Son,' and ' Esther/ which preceded that of Racine by seventeen 
years. At Moscow, as at St. Cyr, the piece gave scope to many 
allusions. Here Esther was Natalia Narychkine ; Mordecai was 
Matvdef, the protector of her youth ; and the vr^mianchtchik 
Haman, who was hung on the tchelobitie of Queen Esther, was, 
no doubt, Khitrovo, the former favorite. These pieces were en- 
livened by somewhat rough pleasantries. In ' Holofernes,' when 
Judith has cut off the head of the Assyrian voievode, the servant 
cries " Here is a poor man who will be much astonished, on 
awaking, to find his head carried away ! " 

During this reign, when Russia was trying to assimilate her- 
self to Europe, diplomacy naturally took rapid strides. Musc-^vy 
had entered into more or less close relations with all the Cou. ts 
of the West. 

In 1645, Alexis sent Gerasimus Doktourof to notify his ac- 
cession to the King of England, Charles I. The Russian envoy 
arrived in England in the midst of the Revolution. Being re- 
ceived at Gravesend with great honors and the firing of guns by 
the company of merchants that traded with Russia, he at once 
inquired " where was the king ? " They replied, they did not 
know exactly where he was, because for three orfour years there 
had been a great civil war, and instead of the king they had now 
the Parliament, composed of deputies from all the orders, who 
governed London as well as the kingdoms of England and 
Scotland. " Our war with the king," said the merchants, " began 
for the sake of religion, when he married the daughter of the 
King of France. She, being a Papist, persuaded the king into 
various superstitious practices ; it was by her counsel that the 
king instituted archbishops and called in the Jesuits. Many 
people, in order to follow the example of the king, made them- 
selves Papists too. Besides this, the king wished to govern the 
kingdom according to his own will, as do the sovereigns of other 
States. But here, from time immemorial, the country has been 
free : the early kings could settle nothing : it was the Parlia- 
ment, the men who were elected, that governed. The king 
began to rule after his own will, but the Parliament would not 
allow that, and many archbishops and Jesuits were executed. 
The king, seeing that the Parliament intended to act according 
to its own wish, as it had done from all time, and not at all ac- 
cording to the royal will, left London with the queen, without 
being expelled by anyone, saying that they were going away into 
Other towns. Once out of London, he sent the queen to France, 


and began to fight us, but the Parliament was the stronger. 
The Parliament is composed oiv^o palaty (chambers) : in one o£ 
them sit the boyards, in the other the men elected by the com- 
mons — the sloujilid lioudi and the merchants. Five hundred men 
sit in the parliament, and one orator speaks for all." 

These l,..-ons in the English Constitution could not penetrate 
the brain of the Russian envoy. He only recognized the king, 
and persisted, according to the text of his instructions, in trying 
to deliver his letters of credit to the king himself. " Hast thou 
a letter from thy sovereign, and a mission to the Parliament ?" 
they asked him. He replied, " I have neither a letter nor a 
mission to the Parliament. Let the Parliament send me im- 
mediately before the king, and give me an escort, carriages, and 
provisions. Let the Parliament present me to him — it is to him 
that I will speak." His demand was naturally refused, and he 
wished instantly to leave for Holland, but this was not allowed. 
The following year Charles L was brought a prisoner into 
London. Doktourof insisted on being presented to him. His 
request was ill-timed. "You cannot be brought before him," 
they said to him ; " he no longer governs anything." Doktourof 
then refused a dinner given to him by the Russian Company, 
and only yielded when the dinner was served at his own house. 
The Parliament, however, did not wish to interrupt the friendly 
relations with Russia. 

Doktourof was summoned before the House of Lords on the 
13th of June. At his entrance all the " boyards" took off their 
hats, and Lord Manchester, the "chief boyard," rose. Then 
Doktourof, to the general consternation, made the following 
speech : — " I am sent by my sovereign to your king, Charles 
King of England. I have been sent as a courier {gonets) to 
negotiate important affairs of State, which offer great advantages 
to both sovereigns and to all Christendom, and may help to main- 
tain peace and concord. It is the 13th of June, and, since I 
arrived in London on the 26th of November last, I have never 
ceased to show you the letter of the Tzar and to beg you to 
allow me to go before the king. You have kept me in London 
without permitting me either to have an interview with the king 
or to return to the Tzar; and yet in all the neighboring countries 
the route is free to all ambassadors, envoys, and couriers of the 

Manchester replied that they would explain to the Tzar by 
letter their reasons for acting thus. They gave him a chair, and 
the English " boyards " likewise seated themselves ; and he 
began to look about the House, of which he gives a minute de- 
Bcription in his report. He was then conducted to the House of 


Commons, and the dignitaries came to meet him preceded by 
the royal sceptre. He renewed his declarations, and then re- 
tired ceremoniously. In June 1646 he left England much dis- 
contented. Alexis could understand no more of the English 
Revolution than his envoy. He maintained, like Catherine II., 
the cause of kings against the liberty of the subjects. In May 
1647 he received at Moscow Nawtingall, envoy of Charles I., 
who denounced the captivity of the king, and said Charles w'ould 
see with pleasure the English Company deprived of its privileges, 
and everyone allowed to trade freely with Russia. Alexis 
listened to his request, and granted him, as aid to the king 30,000 
tchetverts of corn, out of the 300,000 that were asked of him. 
But the English merchants settled in Russia accused Nawtingall 
of imposture, saying that the king's letter was apocryphal, and 
that the dog he had brought as a present to Alexis had never 
been bought by Charles I. Nawtingall was expelled in disgrace, 
and avenged himself by accusing his compatriots of a project of 
attacking Arkhangel, and of pillaging the Russian merchants. 
His honors as ambassador were then given back to him, but he 
quitted Russia. 

When Alexis heard of the execution of Charles I., he published 
the oukase of June 1649, which, as a punishment to the regicides, 
forbade the English merchants to live in the cities of the interior, 
and confined them to Arkhangel. The Tzar furnished help in 
money and corn to Charles, Prince of Wales, who in 1660 became 
Charles II., and resumed relations with him when he ascended 
the throne of the Stuarts. 

At the opening of the war with Poland, it occurred to Alexis 
to notify the fact to the sovereigns of the West. In 1653 he 
sent to Louis XIV. a certain Matchdkine, who was also pr^. 
sented to Anne of Austria. In 1668 Peter Potemkine was ac- 
credited first to the Court of Spain, and then to that of France. 
It was just after the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, and it was not 
difficult for Russia to guess that the war would soon recom- 
mence. The object of the embassy was to induce Louis XIV. 
to enter into regular relations with Russia, and to send French 
vessels to Arkhangel. Potemkine had conferences with Colbert 
and the six merchant guilds of Paris. But the results of this 
embassy w-ere hardly greater than those of the preceding one. 
The account of Potemkine contains some curious details and 
quaint reflections on the Spain and France of the 17th century, 
but is chiefly occupied ivith difficulties raised by him on ques« 
tions of etiquette. 

Vol. 1 Russia 13 



On the death of Alexis, his eldest son Feodor succeeded to 
the crown. The Miloslavskis, Feodor's maternal relatives, prof- 
ited by his accession to ruin their enemy, Matvdef who was ac- 
cused of magic, deprived of his property and his title of boyard, 
and banished to Poustozersk. In this reign the Little Russian 
question received a solution. The hetman Samoilovitch and 
Prince Romodanoviski defeated Dorochenko, and obliged him 
to resign the office of ataman. They then had to fight the Turks 
and Tatars, who twice invaded the Ukraine and advanced to 

The country, according to a contemporary account, was cov- 
ered with ruined towns and castles, and heaps of human bones 
that whitened in the sun. Finally the Sultan concluded at 
Bakhtchi-Serai a truce of twenty years, which ceded to Russia 
Zaporogia and the Ukraine. In 1681 Feodor sent a new em- 
bassy to Louis XIV. ; his envoy being the son of the old Potem- 
kine, who managed, according to the diplomatic historian Flas- 
sans, to give by his own wisdom and learning a favorable idea 
of the nation which he represented. 

It was in this reign that an assembly was held of the higher 
clergy and the boyards, to legislate on the question of precedence 
{tniestnichestvo), which continued to be one of the plagues of 
Russia. The assembly commanded that there should be no 
more disputes, and in its presence and that of the Tzar the 
' Books of Rank ' were solemnly burnt. In future whoever " dis- 
puted " was to be deprived of his nobility and his wealth. 

In order to defend the orthodox Church against the heresies 
of the West, and to connect it more closely with the Eastern 
Church, Feodor founded the Slavo-Graeco- Latin Academy of 
Moscow. Greek and Latin, Christian philosophy and theology, 
were taught there. The brothers Likhoudi were brought from 
Greece to be professors there. This school, although ecclesi- 
astical, was an advance on all other establishments of the kind 
in Russia, and produced some brilliant pupils. Among them 
we may mention the mathematician Magnitski under Peter the 
Great, and the historian Bantych-Kamenski and the Metropoli- 
tan Plato under Catharine II. The school was afterwards trans^ 
ferred to the Monastery of Troitsa. 





Regency of Sophia (1682-1689) — Peter I. — Expeditions against Azof (1695- 
1696) — First journey to tlie West (1697) — Revolt and destruction of the 
streltsi Contest with the Cossacks : revolt of the Don (1706) ; Mazeppa 


Alexis Mikhailovitch had by his first wife, Maria Milos- 
lavski, two sons (Feodor and Ivan) and six daughters ; by hJs 
second wife Natalia Narvchkine, one son (who became Peter J.) 
and two daughters. As he was twice married, and the kinsmen 
of each wife had, according to custom, surrounded the throne, 
there existed two factions in the palace, which were brought face 
to face by the death of Feodor. The Miloslavskis had on their 
side the claim of seniority, the number of royal children left by 
Maria, and above all, the fact that Ivan was the elder of the two 
surviving sons ; but unluckily for them, Ivan was notoriously im- 
becile both in body and mind. On the side of the Narychkines 
was the interest excited by the precocious intelligence of Peter, 
and the position of legal head of all the royal family, which, ac- 
cording to Russian law, gave to Natalia Nar}'chkine her title of 
" Tzarina Dowager." Both factions had for some time taken 
their measures and recruited their partisans. Who should suc- 
ceed Feodor ? Was it to be the son of the Miloslavski, or the 
son of the Narychkine } The Miloslavskis were first defeated 
on legal grounds. Taking the incapacity of Ivan into consider- 
ation, the boyards and the Patriarch Joachim proclaimed the 
young Peter, then nine years old, Tzar. The Narychkines tri- 
umphed : Natalia became Tzarina-Regent, recalled from exile 
her foster-father, Matvdef, and surrounded herself by her 
brothers and uncles. 

The Miloslavskis' only means of revenge lay in revolt, but 
they were without a head ; for it was impossible for Ivan to take 
the lead. The eldest of his six sisters was thirty-two years of 
age, the youngest nineteen ; the most energetic of them was 


Sophia, who was twenty-five. These six princesses saw them. 
selves condemned to the dreary destiny of the Russian tzarevni^ 
and were forced to renounce all hopes of marriage, wiih no 
prospects but to grow old in the seclusion of the terem, subjected 
by law to the authority of a stepmother. All their youth had to 
look forward to was the cloister. They, however, only breathed 
in action ; and though imperial etiquette and Byzantine man- 
ners, prejudices, and traditions forbade them to appear in 
public, even Byzantine traditions offered them models to follow. 
Had not Pulcheria, daughter of an emperor, reigned at Constan- 
tinople in the name of her brother, the incapable Theodosius "i 
Had she not contracted a nominal marriage with the brave 
Marcian, who was her sword against the barbarians ? Here 
was the ideal that Sophia could propose to herself; to be a 
Tzardievitsa, a woman-emperor. To emancipate herself from 
the rigorous laws of the terem, to force the " twenty-seven locks " 
of the song, to raise the. fata that covered her face, to appear in 
public and meet the looks of men, needed both energy, cunning, 
and patience that could wait and be content to proceed by suc- 
cessive efforts. Sophia's first step was to appear at Feodor's 
funeral, though it was not the custom for any but the widow and 
the heir to be present. There her litter encountered that of 
Natalia Narychkine, and her presence forced the Tzarina- 
Mother to retreat. She surrounded herself with a court of edu- 
cated men, who publicly praised her, encouraged and excited 
her to action. Simeon Polotski and Silvester Medviedef wrote 
verses in her honor, recalled to her the example of Pulcheria 
and Olga, compared her to the virgin Queen Elizabeth of Eng- 
land, and even to Semiramis ; we might think we were listening 
to Voltaire addressing Catherine H. They played on her name 
Sophia (wisdom), and declared she had been endowed with the 
quality as well as the title. Polotski dedicated to her the 
' Crown of Faith,' and Medvie'def his 'Gifts of the Holy Spirit.' 
The terem offered the strangest contrasts. There acted they the 
* Malade Imaginaire,' and the audience was composed of the 
heterogeneous assembly of popes, monks, nuns, and old pen- 
sioners that formed the Courts of the ancient Tzarinas. In 
this shifting crowd there were some useful instruments of in- 
trigue. The old pensioners, while telling their rosaries, served 
as emissaries between the palace and the town, carried mes- 
sages and presents to the turbulent streltsi, and arranged 
matters between the Tzarian ladies and the soldiers. Sin- 
ister rumors were skilfully disseminated through Moscow : 
Feodor, the eldest son of Alexis, had died, the victim of con- 
spirators ; the same lot was doubtless reserved for Ivan. What 


was to become of the poor tzar/vtii, of the blood of kings ? At 
last it was publicly announced that a brother of Natalia Narych- 
kine had seized the crown and seated himself on the throne, 
and that Ivan had been strangled. Love and pity for the son 
of Alexis, and the indignation excited by the news of the usurpa- 
tion, immediately caused the people of Moscow to revolt, and 
the ringleaders cleverly directed the movement. The tocsin 
sounded from 400 churches of the " holy city " ; the regiments 
of the streltsi took up arms and marched, followed by an im- 
mense crowd, to the Kremlin, with drums beating, matches 
lighted, and dragging cannon behind them. Natalia Narychkine 
had only to show herself on the Red Staircase, accompanied by 
her son Peter, and Ivan who was reported dead. Their mere 
appearance sufficed to contradict all the calumnies. The 
streltsi hesitated, seeing they had been deceived. A clever ha- 
rangue of Matvdef, who had formerly commanded them, and the 
exhortations of the Patriarch, shook them further. The revolt 
was almost appeased ; the Miloslavskis had missed their aim, 
for they had not yet succeeded in putting to death the people of 
whom they were jealous. Suddenly Prince Michael Dolgorouki, 
chief of the prikaz of the streltsi, began to insult the rioters 
in the most violent language. This ill-timed harangue awoke 
their fury ; they seized Dolgorouki, and flung him from the top 
of the Red Staircase on to their pikes. They stabbed Matveef, 
under the eyes of the Tzarina ; then they sacked the palace, 
murdering all who fell into their hands. Athanasius Narych- 
kine, a brotlier of Natalia, was thrown from a window on to the 
points of their lances. The following day the imeide recom- 
menced ; they tore from the arms of the Tzarina her father 
Cyril, and her brother Ivan ; the latter was tortured and sent 
into a monastery. Historians show us Sophia interceded for 
the victims on her knees, but an understanding between the 
rebels and the Tzardvna did exist ; the streltsi obeyed orders. 
The following days were consecrated to the purifying of the 
palace and the administration, and the seventh day of the revolt 
they sent their commandant, the prince-boyard Khovanski, to 
declare that they would have two Tzars — Ivan at the head, and 
Peter as coadjutor ; and if this were refused, they would again 
rebel. The boyards of the douma deliberated on this proposal, 
and the greater number of the boyards were opposed to it. In 
Russia the absolute power had never been shared, but the 
orators of the terem cited many examples both from sacred and 
profane history : Pharaoh and Joseph, Arcadius and Honorius, 
Basil II. and Consianiine VIII. ; and the best of all the argit 
ments were the pikes of the streltsi (1682). 



Sophia had triumphed : she reigned in the name of her two 
brothers, Ivan and Peter. She made a point of showing herself 
in public, at processions, solemn services, and dedications of 
churches. At the Ouspienski Sobor, while her brothers occupied 
the place of the Tzar, she filled that of the Tzarina ; only she 
raised the curtains and boldly allowed herself to be incensed by 
the Patriarch. When the raskolniks challenged the heads of the 
orthodox Church to discussion, she wished to preside and hold 
the meeting in the open air, at the Lobnoe Miesto on the Red 
Place. There was however so much opposition, that she was 
forced to call the assembly in the Palace of Facets, and sat 
behind the throne of her two brothers, present though invisible. 
The double-seated throne used on those occasions is still pre- 
served at Moscow ; there is an opening in the back, hidden by 
a veil of silk, and behind this sat Sophia. This singular piece 
of furniture is the symbol of a government previously un- 
known to Russia, composed of two visible Tzars and one in- 
visible sovereign. 

The streltsi, however, felt their prejudices against female 
sovereignty awaken. They shrank from the contempt heaped 
by the Tzarevna upon the ancient manners. Sophia had already 
become in their eyes a "scandalous person" {pozorno^ litzo). 
Another cause of misunderstanding was the support she gave to 
the State Church, as reformed by Nicon, while the streltsi and 
the greater part of the people held to the " old f^ith." She 
had arrested certain "old believers," who at the discussion in 
the Palace of Facets, had challenged the patriarchs and ortho- 
dox prelates, and she had caused the ringleader to be exe- 
cuted. Khovanski, chief of the streltsi, whether from sympathy 
with the raskol, or whether he wished to please his subordi- 
nates, affected to share their discontent. The Court no longer 
felt itself safe at Moscow. Sophia took refuge with the 
Tzarina and the two young princes in the fortified monastery of 
Troitsa, and summoned around her the gentlemen-at-arms. 
Khovanski was invited to attend, was arrested on the way, and 
put to death with his son. The streltsi attempted a new rising, 
but, with the usual fickleness of a popular militia, suddenly passed 
from the extreme of insolence to the extreme of humility. They 
marched to Troitsa, this time in the guise of suppliants, with 
cords round their necks, carrying axes and blocks for the death 
they expected. The Patriarch consented to intercede for them, 
and Sophia contented herself with the sacrifice of the ring- 

Sophia, having got rid of her accomplices, governed by aid of 
her two favorites — Chaklovity, the new commandant of the streltsi, 



whom she had drawn from obscurity, and who was completely 
devoted to her, and Prince Vassili Galitsyne. Galitsyne has 
become the hero of an historic school which opposes his genius 
to that of Peter the Great, in the same way as in France Henry, 
Duke of Guise, has been exalted at the expense of Henry IV. 
He was the special favorite, the intimate friend of Sophia, the 
director of her foreign policy, and her right hand in military affairs. 
Sophia and Galitsyne labored to organize a Holy League between 
Russia, Poland, Venice and Austria against the Turks and Tatars. 
They also tried to gain the countenance of the Catholic Powers 
of the West ; and in 1687 Jacob Dolgorouki and Jacob Alychetski 
disembarked at Dunkirk, as envoys to the Court of Louis XIV. 
They were not received very favorably : the King of France was 
not at all inclined to make war against the Turks ; he was, on 
the other hand, the ally of Mahomet IV., who was about to besiege 
Vienna while Louis blockaded Luxemburg. The whole plan of 
the campaign was, however, thrown out by the intervention of 
Russia and John Sobieski in favor of Austria. The Russian 
ambassadors received orders to re-embark at Havre, without 
going further south. 

The government of the Tzarevna still persisted in its warlike 
projects. In return for an active co-operation against the Otto- 
mans, Poland had consented to ratify the conditions of the Treaty 
of Androussovo, and to sign a perpetual peace (1686). A hun- 
dred thousand Muscovites, under the command of Prince Galit- 
syne, and fifty thousand Little Russian Cossacks, under the 
orders of the hetman Samoilovitch, marched against the Crimea 
(1687). The army suffered greatly in the southern steppes, as 
the Tatars had fired the grassy plains. Galitsyne was forced to 
return without having encountered the enemy. Samoilovitch 
was accused of treason, deprived of his command, and sent to 
Siberia; and Mazeppa, who owed to Samoilovitch his appoint- 
ment as Secretary-at-war, and whose denunciations had chiefly 
contributed to his downfall, was appointed his successor. In the 
spring of 1689 the Muscovite and Ukranian armies, commanded 
by Galitsyne and Mazeppa, again set out for the Crimea. 
ITie second expedition was hardly more fortunate than the first : 
they got as far as Perekop, and were then obliged to retreat with- 
out even having taken the fortress. This double defeat did not 
hinder Sophia from preparing for her favorite a triumphal entry 
into Moscow. In vain Peter forbade her to leave the palace ; 
she braved his displeasure and headed the procession, accom- 
panied by the clergy and the images and followed by the army 
of the Crimea, admitted the generals to kiss her hand, and distri- 
buted glasses of brandy among the officers. Peter left Moscow 


in anger, and retired to the village of Preobrajenskod. The 
foreign policy of the Tzarevna was marked by another display 
of weakness. By the Treaty of Nertchinsk, she restored to the 
Chinese Empire the fertile regions of the Amour, which had 
been conquered by a handful of Cossacks, and razed the fortress 
of Albazine, where those adventurers had braved all the forces 
of the East. On all sides Russia seemed to retreat before the 

Meantime Peter was growing. His precocious faculties, his 
quick intelligence, and his strong will awakened alike the hopes 
of his partisans and the fears of his enemies. As a child he 
only loved drums, swords, and muskets. He learned history by 
means of colored prints brought from Germany. Zotof, his 
master, whom he afterwards made " the archpope of fools," 
taught him to read. Among the heroes held up to him as examples, 
we are not surprised to find Ivan the Terrible, whose character 
and position offer so much analogy to his own. " When the 
Tzarevitch was tired of reading," says M. Zabidline, " Zoiof took 
the book from his hand, and, to amuse him, would himself read 
the great deeds of his father, Alexis Mikhailovitch, and those of 
the Tzar Ivan Vassilie'vitch, their campaigns, their distant expe- 
ditions, their battles and sieges : how they endured fatigues and 
privations better than any common soldier ; what benefits they 
had conferred on the empire, and how they extended the fron- 
tiers of Russia." Peter also learnt Latin, German, and Dutch. 
He read much and widely, and learnt a great deal, though with- 
out method. Like Ivan the Terrible, he was a self-taught man. 
He afterwards complained of not having been instructed accord- 
ing to rule. This was perhaps a good thing. His education, 
like that of Ivan IV., was neglected, but at least he was not sub- 
jected to the enervating influence of the teretn — he was not cast 
in that dull mould which turned out so many idiots in the royal 
family. He " roamed at large, and wandered in the streets with 
his comrades." The streets of Moscow at that period were, 
according to M. Zabieline, the worst school of profligacy and 
debauchery that can be imagined ; but they were, on the whole, 
less bad for Peter than the palace. He met there something 
besides mere jesters ; he encountered new elements which had 
as yet no place in the terem, but contained the germ of the re- 
generation of Russia. He came across Russians who, if un- 
scrupulous, were also unprejudiced, and who could aid him in 
his bold reform of the ancient society. He there became ac- 
quainted with Swiss, English, and German adventurers — with 
Lefort, with Gordon, and with Timmermann, who initiated him 
into European civilization. His Court was composed of Leo 



Narychkine, of Boris Galitsyne (who had undertaken never to 
flatter him), of Andrew Matv^f (who had marked taste for 
everything European), and of Dolgorouki, at whose house he 
first saw an astrolabe. He played at soldiers with his young 
friends and his grooms, and formed them into the " battalion of 
playmates," who manoeuvred after the European fashion, and 
became the kernel of the future regular army. He learnt the 
elements of geometry and fortification, and constructed small 
citadels, which he took or defended with his young warriors in 
those fierce battles which sometimes counted their wounded or 
dead, and in which the Tzar of Russia was not always spared. 
An English boat stranded on the shore of Yaousa caused him to 
send for Franz Timmermann, who taught him to manage a sail- 
ing boat, even with a contrary wind. He who formerly, like a 
true boyard of Moscow, had such a horror of the water that he 
could not make up his mind to cross a bridge, became a deter- 
mined sailor : he guided his boat first on the Yaousa, then on 
the lake of Perdiaslavl. Brandt, the Dutchman, built him a 
whole flotilla ; and already, in spite of the terrors of his mother, 
Natalia, Peter dreamed of the sea. 

" The child is amusing himself," the courtiers of Sophia 
affected to observe ; but these amusements disquieted her. Each 
day added to the years of Peter seemed to bring her nearer to the 
cloister. In vain she proudly called herself " autocrat " ; she 
saw her stepmother, her rival, lifting up her head. Galitsyne 
confined himself to regretting that they had not known better 
how to profit by the revolution of 1682, but Chaklovity, who 
knew he must fall with his mistress, said aloud, " It would be 
wiser to put the Tzarina to death than to be put to death by 
her." Sophia could only save herself by seizing the throne — but 
who would help her to take it ? The streltsi ? But the result 
of their last rising had chilled them considerably. Sophia her- 
self, while trying to bind this formidable force, had broken it, 
and the streltsi had not forgotten their chiefs beheaded at 
Troitsa. Now what did the emissaries of Sophia propose to 
them ? Again to attack the palace ; to put Leo Narychkine, 
Boris Galitsyne, and other partisans of Peter to death ; to arrest 
his mother, and to expel the Patriarch. They trusted that Peter 
and Natalia would perish in the tumult. The streltsi remained 
indifferent when Sophia, affecting to think her life threatened, 
fled to the Dievitchi Afonastyr, and sent them letters of entreaty. 
" If thy days are in peril," tranquilly replied the streltsi, " there 
must be an inquiry." Chaklovity could hardly collect four hun- 
dred of them at the Kremlin. 

The struggle began between Moscow and Preobrajenskod, 



the village with the prophetical name (the Transfiguration or 
/Regeneration). Two streltsi warned Peter of the plots of his 
sister, and, for the second time, he sought an asylum at Troitsa. 
It was then seen who was the true Tzar ; all men hastened to 
range themselves around him : his mother, his armed squires, 
the " battalion of playmates," the foreign officers, and even the 
streltsi of the regiment of Soukharef. The Patriarch also took 
the side of the Tzar, and brought him moral support, as the 
foreign soldiers had brought him material force. The partisans 
of Sophia were cold and irresolute ; the streltsi themselves de- 
manded that her favorite Chaklovity should be surrendered to 
tlie Tzar. She had to implore the mediation of the Patriarch. 
Chaklovity was first put to the torture and made to confess his 
plot against the Tzar, and then decapitated. Medviddef was at 
first only condemned to the knout and banishment for heresy, 
but he acknowledged he had intended to take the place of the 
Patriarch and to marry Sophia ; he was dishonored by being im- 
prisoned with two sorcerers condemned to be burned alive in a 
cage, and was afterwards beheaded. Galitsyne was deprived of 
his property, and exiled to Poustozersk. Sophia remained in 
the Dicvitchi Monastyr, subjected to a hard captivity. Though 
Ivan continued to reign conjointly with his brother, yet Peter, 
who was then only seventeen, governed alone, surrounded by 
his mother, the Narychkines, the Dolgoroukis, and Boris Galit- 
syne (1689). 

Sophia had freed herself from the seclusion of the terem, as 
Peter had emancipated himself from the seclusion of the palace 
to roam the streets and navigate rivers. Both had behaved 
scandalously, according to the ideas of the time — the one ha- 
ranguing soldiers, presiding over councils, walking with her veil 
raised ; the other using the axe like a carpenter, rowing like a 
Cossack, brawling with foreign adventurers, and fighting with 
his grooms in mimic battles. But to the one her emancipation 
was only a means of obtaining power ; to the other the eman- 
cipation of Russia, like the emancipation of himself, was the 
end. He wished the nation to shake off the old trammels from 
which he had freed himself. Sophia remained a Byzantine, 
Peter aspired to be a European. In the conflict between the 
Tzarevna and the Tzar, progress was not on the side of the 
Dt^vitchi Monastyr. 




THE WEST (1697). 

The first use the Tzar made of his liberty was to hasten to 
Arkhangel. There, deaf to the advice and prayers of his mother, 
who was astounded at this unexpected taste for salt water, he 
gazed on that sea which not Tzar had ever looked on. He ate 
with the merchants and the officers of foreign navies; he breath- 
ed the air which had come from the West. He established a 
dockyard, built boats, dared the "angry waves of this unknown 
ocean, and almost perished in a -storm, which did not prevent 
the " skipper Peter Alexievitch " from again putting to sea, and 
bringing the Dutch vessels back to the Holy Cape. Unhappily, 
the White Sea, by which, since the time of Ivan IV., the Eng- 
lish had entered Russia, is frostbound in winter. In order to 
open permanent communications with the West, with civilized 
countries, it was necessary for Peter to establish himself on the 
Baltic or the Black Sea. Now the first belonged to the Swedes, 
and the second to the Turks, as the Caspian did to the Per- 
sians. Who was first to be attacked ? The treaties concluded 
with Poland and Austria, as well as policy and religion, urged 
the Tzar against the Turks, and Constantinople has always been 
the point of attraction for orthodox Russia. Peter shared the 
sentiments of his people, and had the enthusiasm of a crusader 
against the infidel. Notwithstanding his ardent wish to travel 
in the West, he took the resolution not to appear in foreign 
lands till he could appear as a victor. Twice had Galitsyne 
failed against the Crimea ; Peter determined to attack the bar- 
barians by the Don, and besiege Azof. The army was com- 
manded by three generals, Golovine, Gordon, and Lefort, who 
were to act with the " bombardier of the Preobrajenski regi- 
ment, Peter Alexievitch." This regiment, as well as three 
others which had sprung from the " amusements " of Preo- 
brajenskod — the Semenovski, the Botousitski, and the regiment 
of Lefort — were the heart of the expedition. It failed because 
the Tzar had no fleet with which to invest Azof by sea, because 
the new army and its chiefs wanted experience, and because 
Jansen, the German engineer, ill-treated by Peter, passed over 
to the enemy. After two assaults, the siege was raised. This 
check appeared the more grave because the Tzar himself was 
with the army, because the first attempt to turn from the " amuse- 
ments " of Preobrajenskod to serious warfare had failed, and 
because this failure would furnish arms against innovations, 
against the Germans and the heretics, against the new tactics. 


It might even compromise, in the eyes of the people, the work 
of regeneration (1695). 

Although Peter had followed the example of Galitsyne, and 
entered Moscow in triumph, he felt he needed revenge. He 
sent for good officers from foreign countries. Artillerymen 
arrived from Holland and Austria, engineers from Prussia, and 
Admiral Lima from Venice. Peter hurried on the creation of a 
fleet with feverish impatience. He built of green wood twenty- 
two galleys, a hundred rafts, and seventeen hundred boats or 
barks. AH the small ports of the Don were metamorphosed 
into dockyards ; twenty-six thousand workmen were assembled 
there from all parts of the empire. It was like the camp of 
Boulogne. No misfortune — neither the desertion of the laborers, 
the burnings of the dockyards, nor even his own illness — could 
lessen his activity. Peter was able to write that, " following the 
advice God gave to Adam, he earned his bread by the sweat of 
his brow." At last the " marine caravan," the Russian armada, 
descended the Don. From the slopes of Azof he wrote to his 
sister Natalia : * "In obedience to thy counsels, I do not go to 
meet the shells and balls ; it is they who approach me, but tolera- 
bly courteously." Azof was blockaded by sea and land, and a 
breach was opened by the engineers. Preparations were being 
made for a general assault, when the place capitulated. The 
joy in Russia was great, and the streltsi's jealousy of the success 
of foreign tactics gave place to their enthusiasm as Christians 
for this victory over Islamism, which recalled those of Kazan 
and Astrakhan. The effect produced on Europe was consider- 
able. At Warsaw the people shouted, " Long live the Tzar ! " 
The army entered Moscow under triumphal arches, on vihich 
were represented Hercules trampling a pacha and two Turks 
under foot, and Mars throwing to the earth a mourza and two 
Tatars. Admiral Lefort and Schein the generalissimo took 
part in the cortege, seated on magnificent sledges ; whilst Peter, 
promoted to the rank of Captain, followed on foot. Jansen, 
destined to the gibbet, marched among the prisoners (1676). 

Peter wished to profit by this great success to found the 
naval power of Russia. By the decision of the douma three 
thousand families were established at Azof, besides four hundred 
Kalmucks, and a garrison of Moscow streltsi. The Patriarch, 
the prelates, and the monasteries taxed themselves for the con- 
struction of one vessel to every eight thousand serfs. The 
nobles, the officials, and the merchants were seized with the 
fever of this holy war, and brought their contributions towards 

* His mother died in 1694, his brother Ivan in 1696. 



the infant navy. It was proposed to unite the Don and the Volga 
by means of a canal. A new appeal was made to the artisans 
and sailors of Europe. Fifty young nobles of the Court were 
sent to Venice, England, and the Low Countries, to learn sea- 
manship and shipbuilding. But it was necessary that the Tzar 
himself should be able to judge of the science of his subjects ; 
he must counteract Russian indolence and prejudice by the 
force of a great example ; and Peter, after having begun his 
career in the navy at the rank of " skipper," and in the army at 
that of bombardier, was to become a carpenter of Saardam. 
He allowed himself, as a reward for his success at Azof, the 
much longed-for journey to the West. 

In 1697 Admiral Lefort and Generals Golovine and Vosnit- 
syne prepared to depart for the countries of the West, under the 
title of " the great ambassadors of the Tzar." Their suite was 
composed of two hundred and seventy persons — young nobles, 
soldiers, interpreters, merchants, jesters, and buffoons. In the 
cortege was a young man who went by the name of Peter Mi- 
khailof. This incognito would render the position of the Tzar 
easier, whether in his own personal studies or in delicate nego- 
tiations. On the journey to Riga, Peter allowed himself to be 
insulted by the governor, but laid up the recollection for future 
use. At Konigsburg the Prussian Colonel Sternfeld delivered 
to " M. Peter Mikhailof " " a formal brevet of master of artil- 
lery." The great ambassadors and their travelling companion 
were cordially received by the Courts of Courland, Hanover, 
and Brandenburg. Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, afterwards 
Queen of Prussia, has "left us some curious notes about the Tzar, 
then twenty-seven years of age. He astonished her by the 
vivacity of his mind, and the promptitude and point of his an- 
swers, not less than by the grossness of his manners, his bad 
habits at table, his wild timidity, like that of a badly brought-up 
child, his grimaces, and a frightful twitching which at times con- 
vulsed his whole face. Peter had then a beautiful brown skin, 
with great piercing eyes, but his features already bore traces 
of toil and debauchery. " He must have very good and very 
bad points," said the young Electress ; and in this he repre- 
sented contemporary Russia. " If he had received a better 
education," adds the princess, " he would have been an accom- 
plished man." The suite of the Tzar were not less surprising 
than their master; the Muscovites danced with the Court ladies, 
and took the stiffening of their corsets for their bones. "The 
bones of these Germans are devilish hard ! " said the Tzar. 

Leaving the great embassy on the road, Peter travelled 
quickly, and reached Saardam. The very day of his arrival he 


took a lodging at a blacksmith's, procured himself a complete 
costume like those worn by Dutch workmen, and began to wield 
the axe. He bargained for a boat, bought it, and drank the tra- 
ditional pint of beer with its owner. He visited cutleries, rope- 
walks, and other manufactories, and everywhere tried his hand 
at the work : in a paper manufactory he made some paper. 
However, in spite of the tradition, he only remained eight days 
at Saardam. At Amsterdam his eccentricities were no less as- 
tonishing. He neither took any rest himself, nor allowed others 
to do so ; he exhausted all his dceroni, always repeating, " I must 
see it." He inspected the most celebrated anatomical collec- 
tions ; engaged artists, workmen, officers, and- engineers ; and 
bought models of ships, and collections of naval laws and trea- 
ties. He entered familiarly the houses of private individuals, 
gained the good will of the Dutch by his bonhomie, penetrated 
into the recesses of the shops and stalls, and remained lost in 
admiration over a dentist. 

But, amidst all these distractions, he never lost sight of his 
aim. " We labor," he wrote to the Patriarch Adrian, " in order 
thoroughly to master the art of the sea ; so that, having once learnt 
it, we may return to Russia and conquer the enemies of Christ, 
and free by his grace the Christians who are oppressed. This is 
what I shall long for, to my last breath," He was vexed at mak- 
ing so little progress in shipbuilding, but in Holland everyone 
had to learn by personal experience. A naval captain told him 
that in England instruction was based on principles, and these 
he could learn in four months ; so Peter crossed the sea, and 
spent three months in London and the neighboring towns. 
There he took into his service goldsmiths and gold-beaters, 
architects and bombardiers. He then returned to Holland, 
and, his ship being attacked by a violent tempest, he reassured 
those who trembled for his safety by the remark, " Did you ever 
hear of a Tzar of Russia who was drowned in the North Sea ? " 
Though much occupied with his technical studies, he had not 
neglected policy ; he had conversed with William IH, but did 
not visit France in this tour, for " Louis XIV.," says St. Simon, 
"had procured the postponement of his visit;" the fact being 
that his alliance with the Emperor, and his wars with the Turks, 
were looked on with disfavor at Versailles. He went to Vienna 
to study the military art, and dissuaded Leopold from making 
peace with the Sultan. Peter wished to conquer Kertch in order 
to secure the Straits of lenikale. He was preparing to go to 
Venice, when vexatious intelligence reached him from Moscow, 



The first reforms of Peter, his first attempts against the na- 
tional prejudices and customs, had raised him up a crowd of 
enemies. Old Russia did not allow herself quietly to be set aside 
by the bold innovator. There was in the interior a sullen and 
resolute resistance, which sometimes gave birth to bloody scenes. 
The revolt of the strellsi, the insurrection of Astrakhan, the re- 
bellion of the Cossacks, and later the trial of his son and first 
wife, are only episodes of the great struggle. Already the 
priests were teaching that Antichrist was born. Now it had 
been prophesied that Antichrist should be born of an adulteress, 
and Peter was the son of the second wife of Alexis, therefore his 
mother Natalia was the "false virgin," the adulterous woman of 
the prophecies. The increasingly heavy taxes that weighed on 
the people were another sign that the time had come. Others, 
disgusted by the taste shown by the Tzar for German clothes and 
foreign languages and adventurers, affirmed that he was not the 
son of Alexis, but of Lefort the Genevan, or that his father was 
a German surgeon. They were scandalized to see the Tzar, like 
another Gregory Otrdpief, expose himself to blows in his military 
" amusements." The lower orders were indignant at the aboli- 
tion of the long beards and national costume, and the raskoluiks 
at the authorization of " the sacrilegious smell of tobacco." 
The journey to the West completed the general dissatisfaction. 
Had anyone ever before seen a Tzar of Moscow quit Holy Rus- 
sia to wander in the kingdoms of foreigners ? Who knew what 
adventures might befall him among the nienitsi and the bousoiir- 
manes f for the Russian people hardly knew how to distinguish 
between the Turks and the Germans, and were wholly ignorant 
of France and England. Under an unknown sky, at the extrem- 
ity of the world, on the shores of the " ocean sea," what dangers 
might he not encounter t Then a singular legend was invented 
about the travels of the Tzar. It was said that he went to Stock- 
holm disguised as a merchant, and that the queen had recog- 
nized him, and had tried in vain to capture him. According to 
another version, she had plunged him in a dungeon, and deliv- 
ered him over to his enemies, who wished to put him into a cask 
lined with nails, and throw him into the sea. He had only been 
saved by a streletz who had taken his place. Some asserted that 
Peter was still kept there ■, and in 1705 the streltsi, and raskoU 
fiiks of Astrakhan still gave out that it was a false Tzar who 
had come back to Moscow — the true Tzar was a prisoner at 
Stekoln^ attached to a stake.* 

» A. Rambaud, ' La Russie Epique,' p. 303. 



In the midst of this universal disturbance, caused by the ab- 
sence of Peter, there were certain symptoms peculiarly disquiet- 
ing. The Muscovite army grew more and more hostile to the 
new order of things. In 1694 Peter had discovered a fresh 
conspiracy, having for its object the deliverance of Sophia ; and 
at the very moment of his departure from Russia he had to put 
down a plot of streltsi and Cossacks, headed by Colonel Tsykler. 
Those of the streltsi who had been sent to form the garrison of 
Azof pined for their wives, their children, and the trades they 
had left in Moscow. When in the absence of the Tzar they were 
sent from Azof to the frontiers of Poland, they again began to 
murmur. " What a fate is ours ! It is the boyards who do all 
the mischief ; for three years they have kept us from our homes." 
Two hundred deserted and returned to Moscow ; but the doiima^ 
fearing their presence in the already troubled capital, expelled 
them by force. They brought back to their regiments a letter of 
Sophia. " You suffer," she wrote ; " later it will become worse. 
March on Moscow. What is it you wait for ? There is no news 
of the Tzar." It was repeated through the army that the Tzar 
had died in foreign lands, and that the boyards wished to 
put his son Alexis to death. It was necessary to march on Mos- 
cow and exterminate the nobles. The military sedition was 
complicated by the religious fanaticism of the raskolniks and the 
demagogic passions of the popular army. Four regiments revolt- 
ed and deserted. Generals Schein and Gordon, with their reg- 
ular troops, hastened after them, came up with them on the 
banks of the Iskra, and tried to persuade them to return to their 
duty. The streltsi replied by a petition setting forth all their 
grievances : " Many of them had died during the expedition to 
Azof, suggested by Lefort, a German, a heretic ; they had endured 
fatiguing marches over burning plains, their only food being bad 
meat ; their strength had been exhausted by severe tasks, and 
they had been banished to distant garrisons. Moscow was now 
a prey to all sorts of horrors. Foreigners had introduced the 
custom of shaving the beard and smoking tobacco. It was said 
that these ?iie'mtsi meant to seize the town. On this rumor, 
the streltsi had arrived, and also because Romodanovski wished 
to disperse and put them to the sword without anyone knowing 
why." A few cannon-shots were sufficient to scatter the rebels. 
A large number were arrested ; torture, the gibbet, and the dun- 
geon awaited the captives. 

When Peter hastened home from Vienna, he decided that 
his generals and his douma had been too lenient. He had old 
grievances against the streltsi ; they had been the army of Sophia, 
in opposition to the army of the Tzar ; he remembered the inva- 



sion of the Kremlin, the massacre of his mother's family, her 
terrors in Troitsa, and the conspiracies which all but delayed his 
journey to the West. At the very lime that he was travelling in 
Europe for the benefit of his people, these incorrigible mutineers 
had forced him to renounce his dearest projects, and had stopped 
him on the road to Venice. He resolved to take advantage of 
the opportunity by crushing his enemies en masse, and by mak- 
ing the Old Russia feel the weight of a terror that would recall 
the days of Ivan IV. The long beards had been the standard of 
revolt — they should fall. On the 26th of August he ordered all 
the gentlemen of his Court to shave themselves, and himself ap- 
plied the razor to his great lords. The same day the Red Place 
was covered with gibbets. The Patriarch Adrian tried in vain to 
appease the anger of the Tzar by presenting to him the wonder- 
working image of the Mother of God " Why hast thou brought 
out the holy icon ? " exclaimed the Tzar. " Retire and restore 
it to its place. Know that I venerate God and His Mother as 
much as thyself, but know also that it is my duty to protect the 
people and punish the rebels." 

On the 30th of October there arrived at the Red Place the 
first instalment of 230 prisoners : they came in carts, with lighted 
torches in their hands, nearly all already broken by torture, and 
followed by their wives and children, who ran behind chanting a 
funeral wail. Their sentence was read, and they were slain, the 
Tzar ordering several officers to help the executioner. John 
George Korb, the Austrian agent, who as an eye-witness has left 
us an authentic account of the executions, heard that five rebel 
heads had been sent into the dust by blows from an axe wielded 
by the noblest hand in Russia." The terrible carpenter of Saar- 
dam worked and obliged his boyards to work at this horrible 
employment. Seven other days were employed in this way ; a 
thousand victims were put to death. Some were broken on the 
wheel, and others died by various modes of torture. The removal 
of the corpses was forbidden : for five months Moscow had 
before its eyes the spectacle of the dead bodies hanging from the 
battlements of the Kremlin and the other ramparts ; and for 
five months the streltsi suspended to the bars of Sophia's prison 
presented her the petition by which they had entreated her to 
reign. Two of her confidants were buried alive ; she herself, with 
Eudoxia Lapoukhine, Peter's wife, who had been repudiated for 
her obstinate attachment to the ancient customs, had their heads 
shaved and were confined in monasteries. After the revolt of 
the inhabitants of Astrakhan, who put their voVevode to death, 
the old militia was completely abolished, and the way left cleat 
for the formation of new troops. 




MAZEPPA (1709). 

The streltsi was not the only military force of ancient Russia 
whose existence and privileges had become incompatible with 
the organization of the modern State. The " armies " (vo'tskd) 
of Cossacks — those republican and undisciplined warriors who 
had been formerly the rampart of Russia, and were her outposts 
against the barbarians — had to undergo a transformation. The 
empire had numerous grievances against them : the Cossacks 
of the Ukraine and those of the Don had given birth to the first 
and the second of the false Dmitris, and from the army of the 
Don had sprung the terrible Stenko Razine. 

In 1706 the Cossacks of the Don revolted against the Tzarian 
government, because they were forbidden to give an asylum to 
the peasants who fled from their masters, or to those who took 
refuge from taxation in the camp. The ataman Boulavine, and 
his lieutenants Nekrassof, Frolof, and Dranyi, summoned them 
to arms. They murdered Prince George Dolgorouki, defeated 
the Russians on the Liskovata, took Tcherkask, threatened Azof, 
all the while protesting their fidelity to the Tzar, and accusing 
the voievodes of having acted " without orders." They soon, 
however, suffered defeat at the hands of Vassili Dolgorouki, 
brother of the dead man. Boulavine was stabbed by his own 
soldiers, and Nekrassof fled with two thousand men to the Kuban. 
The rebel camp was laid waste, and Dolgorouki was able to 
write : " The chief mutineers and declared traitors have been 
hung ; of the others, one out of every ten ; and all these dead 
malefactors have been laid on rafts and abandoned to the river, 
to strike terror into the hearts of the Dontsi, and to cause them 
to repent." 

Since Samoilovitch had been removed, Mazeppa had been 
the hetman of the Little Russian Cossacks of the Ukraine. In 
his youth a page of John Casimir, King of Poland, that adventure 
had befallen him which the poem of Lord Byron and the pictures 
of Horace Vernet have rendered famous. Loosed from the back 
of the unbroken horse which had carried him into the solitudes 
of the Ukraine, he had entered the Cossack army, and, by be- 
traying all chiefs and parties in turn, he had risen through all 
the grades of military service. He owed the office of hetman 
to Galitsyne and Sophia, but was one of the first to embrace the 
cause of Peter. His elevation gained him many enemies, but 
the Tzar, who admired his intelligence and believed in his fidel- 
ity, delivered up to him his accusers. He executed the monk 


Salomon, who pretended to reveal Mazeppa's intrigues with the 
King of Poland and Sophia ; Mikhailof in 1690, and the diak 
Souzlof in 1696, were likewise put to death. 

All this time the Ukraine was being steadil)' undermined by 
factions. In the Cossack army there always existed a Russian 
party, a party who longed for Polish government, and a party 
who' wished to do homage to the Turks. In 1693 Petrek, one 
of the chiefs, invaded the Ukraine with 40.000 Tatars, but was 
forced to retreat. Besides this, the views of the army and those 
of the sedentary populations of the Ukraine were always at 
variance. The hetman dreamed of becoming independent, the 
officers disliked being responsible to anyone, and the soldiers 
wished to live at the expense of the country, without either work' 
ing or paying taxes, after the manner of the ancient nobles •, 
but the farmers who had created the agricultural prosperity of 
the country, the citizens who could not work in security, in fact 
all the peaceful laboring population, determined to get rid ot 
the turbulent military oligarchy, and hailed the Tzar of Moscow 
as a liberator. 

Mazeppa represented the military element of the Ukraine, 
and was hated by the more peaceful classes. The Tzar over, 
whelmed him with proofs of confidence, but Mazeppa feared the 
strengthening of the Russian State. He remembered how one 
day in an orgie the Tzar had seized him by the beard and viO' 
lently shaken him. The taxes imposed on the vassal State of 
Little Russia became daily heavier, and in the war with Charles 
XII. they increased still more. Everything was to be feared 
from the imperious humor and autocratic pretensions of Peter. 
The invasion of the Swedes, now imminent, would necessarily 
precipitate the crisis ; and either Little Russia would gain her in- 
dependence by the help of the foreigners, or their defeat on her 
soil would give a mortal blow to her prosperity and hopes for 
the future. Feeling the approach of the hour when he must 
obey the White Tzar, Mazeppa allowed himself to be drawn into 
communications with Stanislas Leszczinski, the King of Poland 
set up by the Swedish party. The witty Princess Dol^kaia 
had given him an alphabet in cipher. Up to that time 
Mazeppa had delivered to the Tzur all letters tampering with 
his fidelity, and, in return, the Tzar surrendered to him all his 
accusers. When he received the letters of the princess he 
smiled and said, " Wicked woman, she wants to detach me 
from the Tzar." He did not give up the letter, but burned it. 
When the hand of Menchikof's sister w^as refused to one of his 
cousins, when Menchikof himself began to give direct orders to 
the commanders of the/i^Z/^j, when the Swedish war and the march 



of the Muscovite troops limited his power and augmented the 
burdens of his territory, when the Tzar sent pressnig injunctions 
for the equipment of the army in European style, when he felt 
around him the spirit of rebellion against Moscow, he wrote to 
Leszczinski, saying that he did not think the Polish army sufficient- 
ly strong, but assuring him of his goodwill. His confidant, Orlik, 
was in the secret of all his intrigues. Some of his subordinates who 
had penetrated his designs made another attempt to denounce him 
to the Tzar : among these were Palei, celebrated in the songs of the 
Ukraine ; Kotchoubey, whose daughter Mazeppa had taken ; and 
Iskra. The information was very exact and revealed his secret con- 
ferences with the emissaries of the King and of Princess Dolskaia 
It failed, like former denunciations, through the blind confidence 
of Peter : Paleii was sent to Siberia ; Iskra and Kotchoubey were 
tortured, forced to confess themselves false witnesses, delivered 
up to the hetman, and beheaded. Mazeppa was conscious that 
such extraordinary good fortune could not last, and the malcon- 
tents urged him to think of their common safety. At this moment 
Charles XII. arrived in the neighborhood of Little Russia. 
" The devil has brought him," cried Mazeppa ; and he tried be- 
tween the two powers to save the independence of his little 
State, without delivering himself over completely either to 
Charles XII. or Peter the Great. When the latter invited him 
to join the army, he pretended that he was ill, and even received 
extreme unction. But Menchikof and Charles were approach- 
ing — a choice must be made. Mazeppa left his bed, assembled 
his most faithful Cossacks, and crossed the Desna to effect a 
junction with the Swedish army. Then Peter the Great made a 
proclamation denouncing the treason of Mazeppa, his alliance 
with the heretics, his plot to restore the Ukraine to Poland, and 
to fill the monasteries and temples of God with Uniates. He was 
cursed in all the churches of Russia. Batourine, his capital, was 
taken by Menchikof, sacked and destroyed ; his accomplices, whom 
he had abandoned, died on the wheel and the gibbet ; he himself 
fled, after the battle of Pultowa, to the Turkish territory, and per- 
ished miserably at Bender. A new hetman, Skoropadski, was 
elected in his stead ; the mass of the people and the Cossack army 
pronounced loudly for the Tzar, and the Swedes had to cope with 
the rising of the entire population of the Ukraine. In spite of 
this, the independence of Little Russia was past. The privileges 
of the Cossacks were over, and twelve hundred of them were 
sent to work at the Canal of Ladoga. A Muscovite official was 
joined to Skoropadski to govern " in concert with the advice of 
the hetman," Muscovite subjects were allowed to hold lands in 
the Ukraine by the same title as the Little Russians ; Menchikof 


and Chafirof were given large domains there by Skoropadski, 
whose daughter married another Muscovite, Tolstoi, created com- 
mandant of the polk of Nidjine. In 1722 Little Russia, whose 
affairs up to that time had been conducted by the department of 
Foreign Affairs, was governed by a special office founded at 
Moscow under the name of " Little Russian Affairs." This was 
clear proof that the Ukraine had ceased to be an autonomous 
State. When Skoropadski died, Peter did not nominate a suc- 
cessor, declaring that " the treasons of the preceding hetmans 
did not allow a decision to be made lightly in this grave matter 
of election, and that he needed time to find a man of assured 

From this time the institutions of the Ukraine were modified 
at the will of Peter the Great and his successors. The hetman- 
nate was now abolished, now restored, till the last man who held 
the title, a courtier of Catherine IL, abdicated in 1789. The 
affairs of the Ukraine were sometimes directed by the office of 
Little Russia, sometimes by the office of Foreign Affairs, till 
the time when, under Catherine IL, it became an integral part 
of the empire. As to the Zaporogues, after their se'tcha had 
been taken by Peter the Great, they emigrated to the Crimea, 
obtained their restoration to the Lower Dnieper from Anne, 
found the neighboring country already transformed, and, as 
their existence seemed incompatible with security and coloni- 
zation, were finally expelled in 1775. 

From the year 1709 we may sav that there no longer existed 
in the empire a single military force that could oppose its privi- 
leges to the will of the Tzar. 

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